A base of aerobic fitness is a key requirement for any rugby player. The following are some fitness exercises that the Tokyo Gaijin often do at training:
Shuttle running with a little extra. Split the team into forwards and backs. Set up two cones as a starting line and then another two cones at the following distances from the starting line: 10 meters, 20 meters, 40 meters, 80 meters. The players, in their groups, have to run out to each cone and then back. One set is 300 meters. One group rests while the other runs. The Tokyo Gaijin do seven sets as the fitness for one training session. When the players get to each cone they have to do the following:
1st Set: Nothing
2nd Set: Touch the ground
3rd Set: Drop onto stomach and get up
4th Set: Drop onto back and get up
5th Set: Drop onto stomach and get up
6th Set: Touch the ground
7th Set: Nothing
One variation which can be introduced is to get the players running forwards out to the cones and then backwards back to the start line.
4.2.2 Chain Running
Shuttle running in a team environment. Split the team into groups of roughly seven players. Set up two cones as a starting line and then another two cones at the following points from the starting line: 40 meters, 80 meters. The first player of the seven runs out to each cone and then back. When he gets back he links arms with the second player and they run out to each cone and back. Then they link arms with the third player, then the fourth, and so on until all the players are running together. After all of the players have run one full set together the first player drops off. After the next set the second player drops off, then the third, and so on until the seventh player does the final set by themselves. The Tokyo Gaijin often do chain running as a fitness supplement to more technical trainings.
4.2.3 ‘Hennie Mullers’
Named after a legendary South African flanker, a Hennie Muller involves starting at one corner of a rugby field and running the width, the length and the diagonal twice so that you end back where you started – but a lot more tired. Repeat as necessary – the Tokyo Gaijin normally do about five sets as the fitness for one training session.
4.2.4 3km Runs
A 3km run is a favourite way for coaches to measure a player’s rugby fitness. The Tokyo Gaijin do this exercise semi-regularly by running from a bridge near the training ground out to another bridge and back – a run of about 3.5 kms. The results are recorded so people know if their times are getting better or worse. One such run (known as the ‘Tamagawa Bridge to Bridge’) serves nicely as the fitness for one training session.
4.2.5 100m Races
Pair everybody up and go through a series of 100m races. The winners go through to race against other winners, the losers go through to race against other losers. A good exercise to find out the quickest players in the team and a good general fitness session.