Powering the Scrum: Best Leg Exercises and Training for Rugby Players

Rugby is a physically demanding sport that requires a combination of strength, speed, and endurance. Strong legs are an absolute necessity for rugby players, as they are essential for tackling, sprinting, scrummaging, and overall stability. In this article, we will explore the importance of strong legs for rugby players, detail the best leg exercises to develop powerful lower limbs, and design a training program tailored to enhancing a rugby player’s leg strength and performance.

The Importance of Strong Legs in Rugby

Strong legs are the foundation of a rugby player’s performance. Here are some reasons why leg strength is crucial in rugby:

  1. Scrummaging: In the scrum, where packs of forwards engage in a powerful contest of strength, the ability to drive opponents backward relies heavily on leg power.
  2. Tackling: Effective tackling requires strong leg drive to stop opponents in their tracks and prevent them from making progress.
  3. Sprinting: Rugby involves short bursts of sprinting to evade opponents, make line breaks, or chase down opponents. Strong leg muscles are essential for acceleration and top speed.
  4. Jumping: Lineout jumpers need powerful leg muscles to generate the upward force required to reach and contest for the ball.
  5. Stability and Balance: Strong legs provide stability and balance, which is crucial for maintaining control while running, evading tackles, and making passes.

Best Leg Exercises for Rugby Players

To develop powerful legs for rugby, it’s essential to incorporate a variety of leg exercises into your training routine. Here are some of the best leg exercises for rugby players:

  1. Squats:
    • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
    • Lower your body by bending your knees and hips.
    • Keep your back straight and chest up.
    • Push through your heels to return to the starting position.
    • Variations: Back squats, front squats, goblet squats.
  2. Deadlifts:
    • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a barbell in front of you.
    • Bend at the hips and knees to lower your body and grasp the barbell.
    • Lift the bar by extending your hips and knees, keeping your back straight.
    • Lower the bar with control back to the ground.
  3. Lunges:
    • Step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
    • Push back to the starting position and switch legs.
    • Variations: Reverse lunges, walking lunges, Bulgarian split squats.
  4. Box Jumps:
    • Stand in front of a sturdy box or platform.
    • Bend your knees and jump onto the box, landing with both feet.
    • Step or jump back down and repeat.
    • Focus on explosiveness.
  5. Leg Press:
    • Sit in a leg press machine.
    • Push the weight upward by extending your legs.
    • Lower the weight back to the starting position with control.
  6. Romanian Deadlifts:
    • Hold a barbell or dumbbells in front of your thighs with a slight bend in your knees.
    • Hinge at the hips and lower the weight while keeping your back straight.
    • Return to the starting position by extending your hips.

Leg Training Program for Rugby Players

Here’s a sample leg training program that rugby players can incorporate into their overall training regimen. This program focuses on building leg strength, power, and endurance:

Day 1: Strength and Power

  1. Back Squats: 4 sets x 6-8 reps
  2. Deadlifts: 4 sets x 6-8 reps
  3. Box Jumps: 3 sets x 10 reps
  4. Leg Press: 3 sets x 8-10 reps

Day 2: Speed and Agility

  1. Sprints: 6-8 sets x 20-30 meters
  2. Agility Drills: Cone drills, ladder drills, or shuttle runs
  3. Plyometrics: Jumping drills like tuck jumps or burpees

Day 3: Endurance and Stability

  1. Lunges: 3 sets x 12-15 reps per leg
  2. Romanian Deadlifts: 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  3. Bodyweight Squats: 3 sets x 15-20 reps
  4. Calf Raises: 3 sets x 12-15 reps

Repeat this three-day cycle with a day of rest or active recovery between each session. Ensure proper warm-up and cool-down routines to prevent injury.


Strong legs are fundamental for rugby players to excel in scrummaging, tackling, sprinting, jumping, and maintaining stability on the field. Incorporating a well-rounded leg training program with exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, and box jumps can help rugby players develop the leg strength and power necessary for peak performance. Remember to focus on proper form, progressive overload, and adequate recovery to maximize the benefits of your leg training regimen.

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