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Wrestling Drills

This is an excerpt from Complete Conditioning for Rugby by Paul Pook.

Wrestling Drills

Wrestling drills involve a degree of physical exertion while working against a partner. They may be used independently or combined with running-based activities to create an integrated session. Many top teams use wrestling drills in their work capacity programmes, notably Toulouse in France and Munster in Ireland. I recently used them extensively with the Russia National Rugby Team in preparation for the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. During this phase we were also fortunate to train with the Russia National Wrestling Team, which included several current and former Olympic gold medalists.

Mauling and Dynamic Partner Drills

To develop work capacity specific to the static exertion demands of competitive rugby.


  • Rugby ball
  • Cones to mark drill area
  • Up to three players


Maul ball: Crouch and protect a rugby ball for 15 seconds as your partner attempts to maul it away. Change roles and repeat. This equals one repetition. If you manage to maul the ball off your partner within 15 seconds, give it back and continue until you reach the 15-second marker.

Turn it over: Lie on the ground and protect a rugby ball for 15 seconds as your partner straddles you, attempting to maul the ball away. Change roles and repeat. This equals one repetition.

Partner roll and up: Face your partner and link hands. Perform squats as a pair using each other for support with increasing depth and backward lean. After several repetitions, release your hands at the bottom of the squat movement, fall and roll backwards and then immediately attempt to roll forwards and back onto your feet to relink hands. Increase the speed of the forward roll to generate momentum for successful completion of the drill.

Over under: Start behind a crouched partner. Leap frog over your partner; then quickly turn and crawl through your partner's legs. Avoid touching your chest to the floor. Repeat the sequence three times before changing roles. This equals one repetition.

Partner step-ups: Partners start in the push-up position, with partner 1 side on to partner 2 to create a T shape. Partner 2 performs shoulder step-ups by marching with both hands up onto the midriff of partner 1 and down again, performing five repetitions. Partner 2 must also forcefully push partner 1 during contact to the midriff to challenge his stability. Change roles and repeat.

Three-man tumble: Three players lie facedown next to each other in a line. The player in the centre (partner 2) rolls to the left under the player on the left (partner 1). Partner 1 jumps to the right over partner 2 and then rolls to the right under the player on the right (partner 3). Partner 3 jumps to the left over partner 2. Continue this sequence of movements, alternating between rolling and jumping.

Chest rotations: Your partner starts on all fours. Lie over the top of your partner, resting your chest on your partner's mid-back. Place your hands behind your back and rotate around your partner for one complete lap; then repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat for a total of three laps in each direction; then change roles and repeat. Changes in direction may also be dictated by a coach's whistle.

Hands-to-feet agility: Partner 1 starts on all fours in front of partner 2. Partner 2 faces partner 1 and starts moving backwards and sideways, varying the direction of movement. Partner 1 has to shadow those movements while remaining on all fours.

More Excerpts From Complete Conditioning for Rugby



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