Rugby – Rugby Equipment Regulations – The Human Factor

October 22, 2009


Rugby tackles

Have you seen the strongman competition? Won by Žydrūnas Savickas in 2009, it is held annually and often involves giant men such as Bill Kazmaier, Mariusz Pudzianowski and Magnus Ver Magnusson performing feats of strength that are unimaginable and awe inspiring. Performing stunts like lifting atlas balls, the ‘Hercules hold’, keg toss, flipping over giant tyres, ‘duck walk’ and car carry, against both the clock and competitors; the strong man competition is the ultimate strength event in the world. The strength and conditioning of these athletes is phenomenal. There strength conditioning not only involves the ability to lift massive weights but to carry them over distances which takes into consideration the cardio vascular aspect of their training. When you see the strongman events you cannot help but notice that some of these athletes push themselves to the point of bleeding through their noses. The effort and dedication put into the event is out of sacrificial love to be the best no matter the cost. I would not want to tread lightly into the gym workout or training program of any of these Incredible Hulks let alone compete in Strongman.

One of the strongman events is the pulling of a truck or airplane with a rope. Vehicles such as transport trucks, trams, buses or airplanes are pulled across a 30 metre course by hand as fast as possible. In 2007 a fire engine truck was pulled and in 2008 a coal truck. The truck itself sometimes weighs over 12 tonnes. How is a human being able to pull a truck that heavy? What kind of weight training, strength training exercise, strength conditioning or gym workout would one follow to attain such monster proportions of strength? Some of these athletes are able to pull the truck past 30 metres in approximately 30-40 seconds. This demonstrates raw strength together with endurance and speed. How is a human being able to perform such a feat? Does science hold an answer to this? Is this all geometry and physics? Or is this something to do with the strength training anatomy of the individual concerned i.e. is he a superman?

Gone are the days when hundreds of men gathered on city streets to battle in work clothes and boots in melees that often involved the type of brutality and injury that would draw a red card in today’s Union matches. The forefathers of today’s rugby stars were a hard lot of working-class dogs who fought in lawless mauls and hacked their way to victory in spite of their fellow man.

Today, rugby kits are sportswear sets sold as a unit, often with specific team logos, colors, and branding that identifies teams and countries. Big-name companies like Guinness, Adidas, and HSBC sponsor officially licensed gear and capitalize on sales of merchandise to the legions of rugby fans around the world.

A complete kit consists of long socks, boots, shorts, and two shirts or collared jerseys for home and away matches. Mouth guards are a must, while scrum caps and padding for shoulders, collarbone, and thighs are optional. Shirts and shorts are made of reinforced material to withstand the inevitable tugging and pulling by opponents during competition.

The IRB was established in 1886 to enforce the laws and regulations of the game, as well as develop and promote the sport throughout the world. In the 120 years since then, the organization has expanded rugby’s influence to include 116 nations as full or associate members. The 2007 Rugby World Cup sold 2.2 million tickets and drew a combined television audience estimated at 4.2 billion viewers.

Have you ever wondered why Power Lifters perform their movements rapidly? Whilst bodybuilders perform slower repetitions but much more of them. Power lifter movements such as the bench press, dead lift or squat are performed rapidly. Power lifters are the pinnacle; the top of strength conditioning individuals.  In fact, for bench pressing or squats, lowering the weight quickly and using that momentum to burst upwards is one way to trick your muscles to pushing heavier weights; although that would have bodybuilder Olympia gurus like Dorian Yates swear out at you. Momentum is critical. Physics dictates that F = MA i.e. Force = Mass multiplied by Acceleration. The faster a player is moving, the more force he is likely to exert on impact. In the scrum, charging, rolling mauls or defending, the more momentum the more force. The opposition needs to exert an equal force to stop you. Even if they tackle you by your ankles, their forearms, arms and shoulders will have to absorb the force of your impact and they are guaranteed never to forget about you. Strength and speed attribute to power. Power will decide who wins the Rugby World Cup 2011. Will it be the All Blacks?  Or the Springboks? England? Fiji? Functional strength training will reveal the new champions.

The halfback positions seem to always be the area where we appear to be a couple of gears behind our australian counterparts whenever we play them both in terms of knowhow and speed. Only by blooding in younger players early in their careers will we reap the benefits in the years ahead. We may not see the fulfilment of that promise in this tournament, but I bet we do very soon. Good luck to the lads in the weeks ahead

Resource Author Francisco Rodriguez Higueras
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