It is fairly obvious that the job requirements of a prop are significantly different than that of a wing. As such, it quickly becomes apparent that their fitness requirements are quite different as well. While every position on a rugby field will be called on to perform the tasks of any of the others at some point in time (besides scrummaging and lineouts of course), it would behoove any player or coach to try and match their fitness training for rugby to their actual position in rugby.
One study out of New Zealand entitled “Time Motion Analysis of Professional Rugby Union Players during Match Play” looked at video of 29 professional rugby players from the Otago Highlanders over the course of eight Super 12 (now Super 14) matches in New Zealand1 to try and assess the specific fitness demands of each position in rugby.
The rugby players were broken into four positional groups:
Tight Five Players (props and locks)
Loose forwards (hooker, flankers and eightman)
Inside backs (fly half and inside and outside center)
Outside backs (wingers and full back)
The hooker was included in the loose forwards as the hooker position tends to have a less physically demanding role at the lineout and scrum than the other tight five players. As a result, hookers tend to have energy demands similar to a typical loose forward as they are expected to have a greater impact during loose play than the rest of the tight five who are engaged more heavily in the set pieces. Interestingly, the scrum half position was not analysed in this study.
The researchers broke down the rugby players’ movements as follows:
Low Intensity Activity- Standing still, walking, jogging, side and backwards stepping
High Intensity Activity- Running, sprinting, rucking, mauling, scrummaging and tackling