Rugby is an incredibly physically demanding sport. Players are rarely able to play more than one game per week and long seasons can really take their toll on players’ health. So what is done to help this?
What is a bye week in rugby? A Bye week is when a team does not have a game in one round of a season and so they often give their players the week off in order to get their bodies right and try to get the team fully healthy.
The idea of a bye week is a pretty simple one. In any round of a competition, a team might not have a game in a round. This may either be by design or due to having an odd number of teams in the competition. It may just be that the team does not have a game scheduled for that round or it may be designed to give the team more rest.
What is the purpose of a bye week in rugby?
There are really two main reasons why there is a bye week in rugby. The first is a very simple one. If you are playing in a league that has an odd number of teams, there will be a team who do not have a team to play in any given round. This is simply due to having an odd number of teams and happens in lots of different competitions.
The Gallagher Premiership is an example of this. The competition currently features 13 teams and so one team will have a bye week in every round of the competition due to not having anyone else to play. It is a very common occurrence. Bye weeks were only introduced to Premiership Rugby in 2021-22 when the league became 13 teams. Each team gets two bye weeks per season as there are 26 rounds of the Premiership and 24 games for each team.
However, there are still bye weeks when there are even numbers in the competition. These will have been designed into the schedule in order for the players to rest. Rest is really the main purpose of a bye week. Rugby is an incredibly physical sport and it is very tiring on players’ bodies.
If you push players to continuously play every week it is more likely to cause injury. Rugby is already a game that features a lot of injuries. So introducing a bye week helps to lower the risk of injury as you are giving players proper rest and recovery. There is also a financial element to bye weeks.
If you play rugby games constantly, your body will be incredibly tired. This produces some very uninteresting rugby. If you give players the proper rest, it can make the product much more exciting to watch and therefore attract more viewers. So giving teams a bye week will make the product much more exciting.
How do teams use a bye week in rugby?
Rest and recovery is certainly the main way that teams will use the bye week in rugby. Getting the players fit and healthy will be the most important thing to the team But there is certainly more that a team can do during the bye week than just getting the team better rested.
The bye week can also be a great time to prepare for the upcoming game. Having two weeks to prepare for an opponent can give teams a massive advantage, particularly when they are playing a team with only one week to prepare. Not only can you go into that game fresher, but teams coming off a bye week will have more time to prepare.
Bye weeks can be really beneficial to teams who are struggling. It gives them some time to have a look at what has gone wrong up until this point and make the changes that are needed. Teams who have been winning do not always like a bye week as it can ruin their momentum.
There are some cases where a team may begin a season with a bye week. The team that has this will usually just use this week as an extra pre-season week and so rest and recovery will not be the main purpose of the week. Instead, it will be another week of getting the player’s match ready.
Do Players practice on a bye week in rugby?
It is really up to teams on whether players practice during a bye week in rugby. It really depends on a few different factors. If the bye week is later in the season and the team is struggling with their health and fitness it is unlikely that the players will train during the bye week as they need the rest.
Players will likely practice if the bye week is early on in the season because the players should not be as injured or tired. In terms of the amount of practice, this is the sort of thing that is decided by the teams and they will usually see how the players are feeling and how the team is performing to make the decision.
What Rugby competitions have a bye week?
Premiership Rugby has a bye week, in fact, it has two for each team. This has only been introduced recently. Super Rugby is one of the competitions that has had a bye week for a long time, with bye weeks being introduced to Super Rugby in 2011 when the competition became 15 teams.
Despite this, Super Rugby does still have bye weeks for their teams despite Super Rugby only being 12 teams in 2022. This is because Super Rugby understands the toll of an incredibly physical game and a long season.
How many games are played in Premiership Rugby?
In an entire Premiership Rugby season, there will be 159 games in total. For the 2022-23 season, there are 26 rounds of Premiership Rugby and each round features six games per weekend. This makes up 156 games. The other three games are the two Premiership semi-finals and then the final.