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A game for all shapes and sizes? Changes in anthropometric and performance measures of elite professional rugby union players 1999-2018

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Title: A game for all shapes and sizes? Changes in anthropometric and performance measures of elite professional rugby union players 1999-2018
Authors: Bevan, GT
Chew, S
Godsland, I
Oliver, N
Hill, N
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Background: Rugby union player size has increased since the game turned professional in 1995. Changes in physical and performance capability over this period have yet to be fully described. Hypothesis: Increases in player momentum would result from changes in body mass. Methods: Within-player rates of change in anthropometric and kinetic variables with season played were sampled in three successively studied professional rugby union club cohorts playing at the highest level of European competition between 1999-2019. Data comprised 910 seasons of observation for 291 elite male players. Most players had 2, 3 or 4 seasons of observation. Mixed-effects modelling distinguished changes independent of position played, club and international status. Results: With each season played, player body mass, fat-free mass, and maximum speed increased significantly, while percent fat decreased. The mean maximal velocity of a rugby player in 1999 was 8.2 (±0.18) m/s, which in 2019 had risen to 9.1 (±0.10) m/s. Player’s momentum in 2019 was 14% more than those playing in 1999. In the Front Five, momentum increased in this period by more than 25%, mainly driven by greater running speed, disproving our hypothesis. Conclusions: The momentum of players, particularly forwards, increased markedly over 20 seasons of professional rugby. The resulting forces generated in collisions are thus significantly greater, although these may be mitigated by better player conditioning. Proactive regulation to address player safety may be required to address the changing nature of anthropometric measures and physical performance, minimising injury rates and potential long-term sequelae.
Issue Date: 23-Feb-2022
Date of Acceptance: 3-Feb-2022
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/95121
DOI: 10.1136/bmjsem-2021-001235
ISSN: 2055-7647
Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group
Start Page: 1
End Page: 9
Journal / Book Title: BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Volume: 8
Issue: 1
Copyright Statement: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2022. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Sport Sciences
body composition
1106 Human Movement and Sports Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2022-02-23
Appears in Collections:Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction
Faculty of Medicine

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