Jersey Shore Rugby with Dr. J.: Do you have what it takes to be a rugby player?

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It’s rugby time at the Jersey Shore. I know what you are thinking, “Didn’t rugby season just end?” It definitely seems that way. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that the Jersey Shore Rugby Club finished its fall season the week before Thanksgiving. The beautiful thing about rugby is that it is a three-seasons-a-year sport.
And now it is time for preparations for the spring 2018 season. January is pre-season training. This is the month when my players begin to train to get their bodies in shape for the rigors of spring rugby.
Rugby is an 80-minute sport involving lots of contact and lots of running. It is often said that the forwards in rugby cover five-to-six miles of ground running in a single match. Throw in some nonstop tackling, sprinting, springing up from the ground, jumping and lifting, and you can see why preseason training is so important.
Rugby is like one very long wrestling match, or a never-ending cross fit training session (with tackles!). The players need to be physically ready to play. Their cardio fitness has to be at its highest level to endure and prosper in an 80-minute match. Their strength and agility has to be at its peak for the players to outperform their opponents.
Preseason training is crucial for those reasons, and it is also crucial for player safety. The stronger and more flexible the muscles and surrounding soft tissue of the athlete’s body, the less chance of injury. Ninety percent of all injuries that occur in rugby are preventable by the player being in top physical shape. Out-of-shape players equal injuries, and injured players lower the chance of success for the overall team.
So, here we are in January and do you know where my players are? The Sharks are in training, hanging-and-banging the bars, weights, sleds, ropes, pylo-boxes and kettle bells. Between sets they are running sprints, doing push-ups and chin-ups, and flipping tires. Everything needed to get the team in shape for weekly rugby matches.
After four weeks of preseason training, the team will be ready for outdoor practice. The spring season practices will start outdoors in mid-February with more conditioning, rugby skill drills, tackling practice and mini-rugby games. By March 10, the Sharks will be starting their spring competitive season and — hopefully with all of this training — they will be ready to go and play really good rugby.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, this is the time of the year when we recruit for new players. No experience is necessary, we teach you everything you need to know. The only requirements to play rugby are the desire to compete, prevail and excel. Rugby isn’t the bowling league or the softball team. It’s a very real, competitive sport with true athletes competing at their very best, working toward divisional, regional and national championships.
Rugby will develop the following four traits in athletes: strength, fitness, character and respect. These are the traits of exceptional rugby players. If you feel you already have these traits, now is time to take it to the next level and become a rugby player.
The Jersey Shore Sharks are recruiting for our men’s club and our high school team. Men’s club rugby are athletes from ages 18-35 (or slightly older, if you still have it). College students from Atlantic Cape Community College and Stockton University compete on our men’s club team. The Sharks’ high school team is a club sport and is made up of athletes from various schools in Atlantic and Cape May counties. Anyone can play.
Rugby is perfect for football players wanting to stay in shape for next season and it is also a great way for football players to improve their tackling skills and agility. In addition, wrestlers, track and field athletes and basketball players all make good rugby players. As I said above, it’s time to start! Contact me from the information below and you can be having the time of your life playing the fastest growing sport in the USA and second-most popular sport in the world!
Dr. J. Zimmerman is the president of the Jersey Shore Rugby Club Board of Directors. He is the men’s club head coach and director of youth rugby. Dr. J. is also the team chiropractor. For more information on Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby, or if you are interested in playing, visit or on Facebook at Jersey Shore Rugby Club, or call 609-652-6363 or email


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