Connacht strength and conditioning coach Johnny O’Connor on how to get ready on game day

How to warm up for matches

To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail, so the saying goes, and warming up is crucial in making sure your body is ready for the rugby game to come.

Here Connacht S&C coach Johnny O’Connor, the former Ireland back-row, explains how to warm up for matches…

Keep to a schedule

“On match days we plan to be at the stadium two hours before kick-off at home or an hour for away fixtures.

“A strapping list will go out and the physios will be responsible for strapping all the players who need it. We want to be on the pitch 45 minutes before kick-off but some players will be out an hour before.”

Ease into it

“At Connacht we leave the initial period up to the players. That time is spent getting their heart rate up, although the match intensity will come later in the warm-up.

“During this time the players are jogging (forwards and backwards), skipping, accelerating and decelerating, and doing dynamic stretches. We find that dynamic stretching best replicates the in-game situation.”

Pick up the pace

“We then split into forwards and backs. The forwards will work on scrums and lineouts; the backs on phase play and set moves. The intensity will increase.

“Then we’ll focus on groundwork (what happens after a player is tackled) and move on to attack followed by defence.

“During the defensive and attacking drills there will be more running to help get the players’ heart rates up to match intensity. Finally, the players will hit tackle shields before we go back into the changing room about six minutes before kick-off.”

Be prepared

“If running your own warm-up, I’d suggest writing a run-through sheet and carrying a watch. Try to stick to the run-through sheet but be prepared to adjust if you have to.

“We give our players freedom to do their own warm-ups but many clubs don’t. You can decide whether you want a team-led warm-up or leave it up to the individuals. Regardless, focus on building intensity throughout the warm-up rather than going flat out from the start.”

This article originally appeared in Rugby World’s October 2021 edition.

Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.

Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.