The Best Supplements for Rugby Union

©Performance Lab

Elite rugby players take their nutrition seriously.

When it comes down the wire, whoever is the most prepared on match day will come out on top. Whole, nutritious foods fuel the best players through 80 minutes, but supplements provide that extra edge. When everyone is eating well, supplements provide slightly more mass in the scrum, quicker reaction time, or better recovery.

With tons of junk on the market, we’ve done a deep dive in to the best supplements for rugby that allow you to reap the benefits while competing clean.

Competing Clean - Making sure your Supplements are safe for sport

Before you put anything in your body as a rugby player, refer back to this checklist. The last thing you want to do is break the spirit of the sport by cheating or failing a drug test.

 Follow these basic guidelines and always check with the manufacturer when considering supplements for rugby:

  1. Safety - Is it okay to put in your body? Are there negative side effects?
  2. Purity - Does it contain what it claims to contain, and nothing more?
  3. Efficacy - Does it actually work? No use wasting your money otherwise
  4. Price - Will it break your bank? If so, might not be worth it.
  5. Quality and Design - is it third-party tested? Do they include anything at all that’s on the WADA banned list?

Our top supplement brand recommendation for rugby is Performance Lab, a sub-company of Opti-Nutra. They make general, naturally-derived supplements for health as well as an entire line specifically for sport.

Opti-Nutra performs multiple different lab analyses to ensure quality, ingredient purity, bioactivity, and cleanliness before distributing any of their products. Each Performance Lab product is grown through biogenesis, a trademarked way of growing nutrients and minerals in the lab that are identical to those found in nature.

Performance Lab Whole Foods Multi (Men or Women)

Being a high-performance athlete is a 24/7 job. Multivitamins are perfect to enhance nutritional benefits of minerals and vitamins without worrying about missing something. Colorful fruits and veggies set the groundwork for energy metabolism, immune function, and counteracting muscular fatigue, but foods nowadays are less nutrient-dense than they used to be.

Modern farming practices, genetic modification, soil quality, and more contribute to a loss of nutrients in our food. As an athlete, you need these missing vitamins and minerals more than most.

Performance Lab Whole Food Multivitamin isolates those nutrients to make them as bioavailable as possible.

Here’s a short look at just a few vitamins/minerals and what they can do for a rugby player.

  • Vitamin C - helps immune function, heart health, joints, bones, and muscle, acts as an antioxidant
  • Vitamin D3 - facilitates immunity, bone health, testosterone quality, general cell function
  • Vitamin E -  acts as an antioxidant and. helps tissue repair
  • Calcium - bone, joint, and muscular health, nervous system, electrolyte
  • Iron - Blood cells formation and oxygen transport
  • Thiamin (Vitamin B1) - energy metabolism, nervous system function,
  • Niacin - blood circulation, fat and protein metabolism
  • Vitamin K - bone, cardio, and connective tissue health
  • Copper - energy, nerve and connective tissue health, vision quality, red blood cell formation, acts as an antioxidant
  • Vitamin A - tissue repair, bone health, antioxidant, vision

… and so on and so forth. Performance Lab Whole Foods Multi contains the above and more to keep you on top of your game. But that’s just your daily vitamin. What about around workouts?

Performance Lab Pre-Workout Sport

A good pre-workout for weights sessions stimulates blood flow, energy, and creatine supplementation. The more energy you have for training, the more you can get out of it.

Not to mention, creatine has been shown to increase strength and power output during workouts. With small, daily increases, mass and overall strength skyrocket and transfer to the playing field.

Performance Lab Pre-Workout Sport provides creatine to regenerate ATP during short, explosive movements in the gym. For example, when maxing out on a squat or clean, creatine supplementation correlates with increased output. Imagine that kind of power transferring in to your tackles.

It also includes a wealth of amino acids, such as carnosine, citrulline, and glutamine, which clear ammonia byproducts of exercise. By getting rid of this debris, your muscles go stronger for longer. Anaerobic athletes benefit from higher carnosine levels in particular, as it neutralizes the damaging effects of natural anaerobic metabolism. Finally, the addition of cordyceps, a natural fungus, helps resist fatigue in sessions.

As a large majority of rugby involves creatine and anaerobic metabolism, training these adaptations directly impact your ability to move around the field successfully. That’s why we recommend having a go-to pre-workout that’s safe for sport.

Performance Lab Post-Workout Sport

What about after training? A hard day’s work actually adds stress to the body and breaks down tissue. It’s in the nutrition and recovery afterwards that we see real anabolic growth and adaptations.

A big area of interest is something known as voluntary dehydration. Athletes tend to drink much less than necessary while training, whether it’s because they’re too busy in drills or just don’t feel like filling up their stomach with water. These effects increase during hot condition or especially intense sweat sessions.

Performance Lab Post-Workout Sport brings an essential electrolyte blend to rehydrate the body immediately. More importantly, Performance Lab’s electrolytes come from coconut water crystals, which provide simple sugars to refill glycogen stores.

As it’s in capsule form, digestion moves quickly and nutrients enter the bloodstream more directly. Refueling in this way keeps you from feeling too fatigued and starts anabolic processes right away.

Performance Lab BCAAs

Finally, BCAA’s are one of our favorite supplements for rugby for their ability to stimulate protein synthesis and recovery. The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids work together to restore glucose levels when supply is low through gluconeogenesis. This is massive, as we can’t often get enough sugars in our system for long workouts or games.

Leucine in particular activates mTOR pathways for muscle protein synthesis. Why do you care about these weird letters? Because as your break muscle down in order to facilitate adaptations (aka get bigger, stronger, and faster), BCAAs stimulate the production of more muscle tissue. The more you have in your bloodstream, the greater capacity for muscle building.

Ultimately, a product like Performance Lab’s BCAA provides you with the amino acids necessary to succeed on your fitness goals.


Rugby players can use supplements to manage their stress levels, recovery from training, and generally take good care of their body. We know you’re tough and can take a beating on the field. But the more you prepare your body armor, the faster you’ll bounce back and step your opposite on your way to the try zone.