Male Academy rugby union student-athletes in-season physical anthropometrical and physical performance changes, and comparisons with available data
Background: Physical performance demands of the rugby union (RU) game have increased over the past two decades. However, there are little data on these variables concentrating on developing RU players (student-athletes) over a competitive season.
Objectives: To investigate the potential enhancement of two physical anthropometrical and nine physical performance variables of male New Zealand RU Academy student-athletes over a competitive season and compare with similar published data.
Methods: Twenty student-athletes were recruited to the Otago Rugby Football Union (ORFU) two-year Academy Programme. Each week the student-athletes engaged in 25 hours of strength and conditioning training and participated in 15 hours of on-field rugby training with their respective ORFU Premier League team. Assessments sessions were scheduled for the start of the season, in-season, and pre-play-offs (week 31).
Results: Mean data from 20 student-athletes demonstrated a trivial effect size (ES) increase in body weight and skinfold measurements, while a paired t-test (p<0.05) resulted in concurrent significant improvements in lower-body power (ES = large), acceleration (ES = large), speed (10 m sprint, ES = small, 40 m sprint, ES = small), and upper body strength (bench press, ES = large and bench pull, ES = small). A non-significant physical performance improvement, with trivial ES difference, was also noted in anaerobic endurance performance.
Conclusion: Based on these data significant physical performance enhancements were observed during in-season Premier League competition while limiting fatigue and overtraining.
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