Rugby Fitness

Thoughts on Rugby Fitness, Bronco Tests and the World School 7s

[ed. comments below]

I got on this thread about rugby fitness after watching the Japan SDS team win the World School 7s tournament in NZ. The Japan team defeated the highly favoured Australia and NZ girls teams to win the tournament. I watched a number of games on both the boys and girls side and one thing that jumped out at me was the gap in fitness among teams. Of course fitness alone won’t win 7s matches, but without it, winning is difficult. I contacted a number of coaches who watched the tournament to get their thoughts around the Japan win. One noted, “good skills and the fitness that allows them to use them, a desire to work for each other, plus a couple of strong orchestrators”. Another noted, “if you want to simplify why Japanese teams do this, it all comes down to 2 things, discipline and respect”.

Fitness allows you to use the skills that you’ve worked hard to develop, without fitness those skills will degrade when your body shuts down both mentally and physically due to exhaustion. Another benefit of fitness is support play, too often we see players make line breaks and there’s no support. The support player has to be able to read the play but it takes, fitness, discipline and a desire to work for each other to expend the energy to make that support run on a consistent basis.

What are the standards of fitness used? The Beep test was the standard but now the Bronco Test seems to be used more in rugby. We appended an article we did from 2018 when we were at the men’s U20 camp and they ran the Bronco Test, it explains in more detail the parameters. We’ve also included a more recent video done by the UK team Jersey Reds, who compete in the RFU Championship league, on the Bronco Test. Also appended below is a video from the All Blacks in 2021 when they ran the Bronco Test – Barrett clocked 4.18, closely followed by his brother, Jordie, who got 4.24 and Damian McKenzie, who ended up on 4.28. On the forwards side it was reported Richie McCaw did a 4:56 when he was at his best. So want to see how you compare to the All Blacks, there’s your metrics.

We polled a couple of local coaches and found out that it’s not used here as much as we anticipated. One coach noted that in 7s they use speed tests more often and another mentioned they use conditioning games to collect similar data.

What are good Bronco Test levels for club play, forwards and backs? What’s a good level for elite 7s players? Does your club run the Bronco Test? We’d like to gather some data to share, if you want to reach out, contact

Bronco Test Jersey Reds 2022

Bronco Test All Blacks 2021

BCRN Article from 2018

A few notes from Day 1 of the camp. Highlight for the players no doubt, and I’m being sarcastic here, was the Bronco fitness test. For those not familiar with the test here are the specs and the desired results (from

A running test which has been popular in the southern hemisphere for a while which is now catching on in Rugby programmes in the home nations. It is a very simple test and provides an easy reliable measure of your running fitness / aerobic capacity.

So front row 5:45 or better, for locks 5:30 or better, for backs and backrow 5:00 or less. Word on Reddit is that “best score so far in the All Blacks is Ryan Crotty scoring around 4min 34sec”. The U20 results seemed to fit in there well from the few numbers we heard from the sideline. Who are the Bronco fitness studs on the team. In the forwards James O’Neill was the clear winner with the loose forwards in general doing well. In the backs the surprise winner was Campbell Clarke from Newfoundland, putting some distance between himself and the other backs. Clarke was invited to camp after a stellar performance at the U19 CRC tournament. He’s an elite hockey player as well and was an 11th round draft pick in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last year.

In the morning the players went through various stations practicing skills under the watchful eye of coaches. There were a number of CRC coaches on hand who were invited to participate and help out during the week. Gethin Watts, the consultant from Wales, was on hand to provide some expertise as well.

Photos from Day 1

Bronco testing was broken up into backs and forwards

Practicing taking the high ball with contact

Campbell Clarke lapping people in the bronco test, clear winner in the backs

Second and third behind James O’Neill, clear winner in the forwards

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