Rugby as a sport has long been associated with athletic violence, and for many who look at it for the first time, it is compared to boxing in terms of wanton physical contact prone to causing harm.
However, to the initiated, the sport of rugby can often be compared to a multi-person ballet. It’s a beautiful game to watch as the rugby ball moves across the field faster than a top athlete can run via the coordination of well-trained team members and strategic play.
And then, of course, there is the violent physical tackling which seems risky at best and dangerous at worst.
The Healthy Aspects of Rugby
Unlike a marathon runner or sprinter who focuses entirely on running, and a weightlifter who fixates on the improvement of stationary strength, a rugby player has to be a jack-of-all-trades.
He or she has to be able to run three to six miles a game, have physical strength sufficient to tackle or push, have speed and energy to run fast, and have the overall dexterity to change movement in a sport like a deer in mid-run changing 90 degrees. It’s a tall order to meet at anytime, and rugby players have to maintain that level of performance in professional teams the entire season.
The results, however, produce incredible health impacts. Dr. Ian Weisberg points out the rugby player’s body reaches a physical prime performance level that can perform both aerobic and anerobic functions well, durability and resilience reach top expectations, and the heart and internal organs operate at top strength as well.
Even after a career of playing seasons, retired rugby players enjoy easy management of stress, a lower prevalence of health problems if they stay in shape, and long-term strength preservation.
Injuries Can Occur if You Aren’t Careful
Despite the benefits above, though, rugby is known for its physical contact, and that can produce numerous injuries. Everything from cauliflower ears common on forward players and the loss of teeth, to knee and hamstring or ankle problems and eventual arthritis for back line players, injuries can develop if you play without proper protection.
Nothing is Perfect
The one downfall of many rugby players, which affects their heart too, tends to be excessive alcohol drinking, however. Perfection isn’t possible, even in a sport that might be one of the most healthy long-term for overall heart fitness and body performance in terms of metabolism, weight management, strength and flexibility.