Rugby Ready - World Rugby's preparation resource

Warm up

Understanding the warm up is a vitally important first step for any player to become Rugby Ready. The aims of the warm up are to prepare the players to perform effectively and efficiently, and to reduce the risk of injury.

The warm up should last between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on the activity to follow. It must be versatile enough to be adaptable to meet the requirements of a competitive match or a training session. The warm up should start off at low intensity, with a gradual progression through a series of movements from a general and simple level to a more specific and higher intensity level. This will enable the players to prepare muscles and joints to move at the appropriate speed and with the range of motion that is required by the following session or game.

The key benefits of the warm up are:

  • to raise the temperature of the body so that muscles become more elastic and thus movements are more efficient
  • to stimulate the heart and lungs so that the pulse and breathing rates are increased
  • to activate the relevant muscle groups
  • to improve reaction speed by stimulating the nervous system
  • to improve coordination
  • to enable the players to prepare mentally.

The warm up has three distinct phases:

1. General mobility

Begin the warm up with some light jogging / fun activities to get the heart pumping and the blood flowing, moving on to some basic movements to loosen up the muscles and increase joint mobility. Static stretches may be counter-productive, because they might reduce power output and relax the player as opposed to improving physical readiness and sharpening mental awareness.

Below are some examples of exercises which can be completed during the general mobility section. The reps and time spent completing the exercises will vary depending on the players’ experience and the content of the session or match to follow.


Squat as low as possible while maintaining a straight back. Squat to a slow and controlled tempo. Look straight ahead. Keep your heels on the ground throughout the exercise. A variation option would be to hold a ball above the head.

Lunge twist

Step forward and bend your back knee. Keep your back straight and perpendicular to the ground. Don't let your front knee go past your toes. Twist to the left and right in a controlled manner. Step forward with the rear leg so it lands level with the front leg. Repeat same movement starting with the opposite leg.

Standing lateral lunge

Step to the left, bending your left knee and keeping your right leg straight. Return to the upright position, and perform the same movement on the opposite side. Keep your back straight throughout.

Back slaps

Start with arms fully extended behind. Swing the arms forwards, crossing them over to complete the back slap. Return to start position and repeat, alternating the top arm each time.