Short and long-term differences in anthropometric characteristics and physical performance between male rugby players that became professional or remained amateur

From: Journal of Exercise Science & Fitness

Michael J.Hamlin
Richard W.Deuchrass
Catherine E.Elliot
Nuttaset Manimmanakorn

An interesting paper that investigates which anthropometric and physical performance variables characterised players that advanced to professional teams (professionals) and how these variables changed over time, compared to those that did not secure professional contracts (i.e. remained amateurs).

Performances analysed for  83 male rugby players collected between 2015 and 2019 were determined using repeated measures analysis.

Study Conclusion

The study conclusion are limited but it states the characteristics that are likely to assist players in becoming professionals include being older, heavier, taller and stronger.

Click on the PDF to make your conclusions. Short and long-term differences in anthropometric characteristics and physical performance between male rugby players

A Team Sport Risk Exposure Framework to Support the Return to Sport

With Amateur Sports returning to training this is a timely reminder how to training and player proximity interactions when following guidelines in minutiae.

BLOG: British Journal of Sports Medicine Published 1/7/2020

Useful for sports to quantify risk in training & matches, & help guide contact tracing

Authors : Ben Jones 1,2,3,4,5, Gemma Phillips 2,6, Simon PT Kemp 7,10, Steffan A Griffin 7,8, Clint Readhead 4,9, Neil Pearce 10, Keith A Stokes 7,11


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in global disruption to many sports. There are a number of challenges in returning to sport, especially given the unprecedented duration of time that athletes have not been able to train or compete in normal environments(1), the potential health risk to athletes, their coaches, support staff, the wider public, and the limited evidence base available to inform decisions. Every sport will carry different infection risks, given the specific match demands and training requirements(2). Furthermore, considerations regarding the return to training and match play will be greatly influenced by the national impact of COVID-19(3). A good example is the comparison of United Kingdom (COVID-19 mortality of >42,000), vs. Australia and New Zealand (COVID-19 mortality of <150)(4). In particular, New Zealand has now eliminated SARS-CoV-2, and rugby and other sports are now occurring ‘as normal’.

Full Blog can be found here:Blogs BJSM



Returning to Play after Prolonged Training Restrictions in Professional Collision Sports

Authors Keith A. Stokes1, 2 , Ben Jones3, 4, 5, 6, Mark Bennett7, 8, Graeme L. Close9, 10, Nicholas Gill11, 12, James H. Hull13, Andreas M. Kasper10, Simon P. T. Kemp2, Stephen D. Mellalieu14, Nicholas Peirce15, Bob Stewart2, Benjamin T. Wall16, Stephen W. West1, Matthew Cross1,

On the 29th of May the International Journal of sports medicine published on line the attached article, with the easing of Pandemic conditions the following article should be read by sports alevels when returning to play.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has resulted in widespread training disruption in many sports. Some athletes have access to facilities and equipment, while others have limited or no access, severely limiting their training practices. A primary concern is that the maintenance of key physical qualities (e. g. strength, power, high-speed running ability, acceleration, deceleration and change of direction), game-specific contact skills (e. g. tackling) and decision-making ability, are challenged, impacting performance and injury risk on resumption of training and competition.

In extended periods of reduced training, without targeted intervention, changes in body composition and function can be profound. However, there are strategies that can dramatically mitigate potential losses, including resistance training to failure with lighter loads, plyometric training, exposure to high-speed running to ensure appropriate hamstring conditioning, and nutritional intervention.

Athletes may require psychological support given the challenges associated with isolation and a change in regular training routine. While training restrictions may result in a decrease in some physical and psychological qualities, athletes can return in a positive state following an enforced period of rest and recovery. On return to training, the focus should be on progression of all aspects of training, taking into account the status of individual athletes.

For the full article and conclusions: Click on the link Return to Play



Association of artificial turf and concussion in competitive contact sports: a systematic review and metaanalysis

Authors Frank O’ Leary 1, Nic Acampora 2, Fiona Hand 3, James O’ Donovan 1

BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2020;6:e000695. doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2019-000695
1 Department of Performance
Medicine, Sport Ireland Institute,
Dublin, Ireland
2 Faculty of Life Sciences,
University of South Wales,
Pontypridd, UK
3 Department of Surgery, St.
Vincent’s University Hospital,
Elm Park, Dublin, Ireland

An interesting study published in May 2020 by the BMJ in Sports Exercise and Medicine concerning artificial pitches:

Artificial turf can be defined as ‘a surface of synthetic fibres made to look like natural grass’. Since its introduction in 1965, safety concerns have been raised over its use as a playing surface in competitive contact sports. The higher number of knee and ankle injuries occurring on artificial turf has been established.

Despite these safety concerns, an ongoing replacement of natural grass with synthetic turf continues to occur in contact sport.

The aim of this review was to compare the incidence of head injuries and concussion on both artificial turf and natural grass in those competitive contact sports (of any standard) using both surfaces. From this, the risk of such injuries can be directly compared on either playing surface.

What is already known?
► With increasing awareness of head injuries in contact sports, the diagnosis of concussion is becoming more common. Artificial turf is frequently used as a
playing surface for contact sports. There remains no consensus on whether playing surface contributes to the incidence of significant head injury.

What are the new findings?
► Analysis of the limited publications on artificial turf playing surface demonstrates a lower incidence of concussion and head injury in competitive contact sports. On subgroup analysis, this effect is most marked in rugby and American football, with no significant association of playing surface on the incidence of head injury or concussion in soccer.

This systematic review demonstrates an overall lower concussion and head injury rate occurring on artificial turf in competitive contact sports combined, yet when assessing the sports (soccer, American football and rugby) individually, the link between head injury and concussion with playing surface type is not as clear.

Future research in this area would be important to ascertain reasons for this result.

Further examination on what other factors exist that could lead to lower head injury and concussion rates on artificial turf in contact sports should be established. This may include: number
of collisions on artificial turf, the incidence of surface to head contact, the maintenance of the artificial turf as well as its surface properties including temperature and HIC (Head Injury Criterion).

For a full read of the article click on the link Artificial Turf and Concussion


Fascinating chat given by Argentine Coach Daniel Hourcade.

Patterns of training volume and injury risk in elite rugby union: An analysis of 1.5 million hours of training exposure over eleven seasons

Stephen W. West, Sean Williams, Simon P. T. Kemp, Matthew J. Cross, Carly McKay, Colin W. Fuller, Aileen Taylor, John H. M. Brooks & Keith A. Stokes (2020)

Patterns of training volume and injury risk in elite rugby union: An analysis of 1.5 million hours of training exposure over eleven seasons, Journal of Sports Sciences, 38:3, 238-247, DOI:

One of the most fascinating journals I have read in a while, the study on Rugby union examines trends in training volume and its impact on injury incidence, severity and burden over an 11-season period in English professional rugby.

The study recorded from 2007/08 through 2017/18, capturing 1,501,606 h of training exposure and 3,782 training injuries. Players completed, on average, 6h 48 minutes of weekly training (95% CI: 6 h 30 mins to 7 h 6 mins): this value remained stable over the 11 seasons.

Results showed increased severity, injury burden rose from 51 days absence/1000 player-hours in 2007/08 to 106 days’ absence/1000 player-hours in 2017/18. Despite the low incidence of injury in training compared to match-play, training accounted for 34% of all injuries. Future assessments of training intensity may lead to a greater understanding of the rise in injury severity.

The study’s research found a sparsity of information regarding changes to the composition and volume of training over time and the impact of these changes on the incidence, severity and type of training injuries. Their aim was to assess longitudinal changes in volume and type of training, and to explore the effect of these changes on training injury over eleven seasons.

Over the 11 season they demonstrated that match injuries are often the result of unpredictable game events and hence difficult to prevent, training is conducted in a largely controlled environment and it may be considered easier to reduce injuries in this environment

The study suggests that to reduce the overall time loss associated with injury in rugby union, the focus of these efforts may be best placed in training, compared with match-play.

The practical implications of this study are evident for both practice and policy. In practice, this data can be used by clubs to identify differences between themselves and that of elite rugby union clubs in England, in both the volume of training completed as well as the injury patterns they see.

Future studies are needed to establish the exact nature, methodologies, intensity and composition of full contact training, given its high incidence of injury. Developing a greater understanding of the mechanisms driving the increase in injury severity is warranted to reduce the overall burden of injury from training.

This study provides the largest and most comprehensive view of training volume and training injury in professional rugby union.  Results provided season variations which are apparent, the volume of training did not change between 2007/08 and 2017/18.

To ready the full study and make your own conclusions click on the link Patterns of training volume

Visual Feedback attenuates mean concentric Barbell Velocity loss and improves motivation…

Infographic from the NSCA.

Athletes may benefit from receiving visual feedback of kinematic outcomes during training periods, particularly when (1) training quality is of importance, (2) training volume is high, or (3) motivation is low.

This study examined the effects of visual kinematic feedback during the back-squat exercise.

Review – Recent Articles on Artificial Grass Pitches (AGP)

Recently my local Rugby club among others were been supported by England Rugby in its investment in artificial surfaces and installed a 4th Generation pitch (Artificial Grass Pitch), across the sport of Rugby union playing and training venues are increasing across the UK, unfortunately little is known about the likely associated injuries and player welfare consequences.

The following studies examined the effect that playing surface had on injury types and rates of professional rugby union clubs and played their home matches on artificial surfaces. to continue reading See attached PDF

A Tactical Periodization Approach for Rugby Union

By Jason C. Tee, PhD, Michael Ashford, MSc, and David Piggott, PhD
Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom

This is one of the most interesting papers I have come across concerning periodization in Rugby Union. Not many papers on the subject.


Figure 4. Proposed structure of a tactical periodization training week for rugby.`
Figure 5. Roles of technical/tactical and strength and conditioning coaches in
collaborative planning for tactical periodization.

Author’s Conclusion
The idea of Tactical Periodization has been made popular recently by a number of high-profile soccer coaches and, with Jones’ recent work, seems to be making its way into rugby union. However, very few reports of Tactical Periodization currently exist, and only scant material is available for coaches interested in application. In this article, we have therefore tried to show how Tactical Periodization can be applied in rugby union to help coordinate long-term planning, improve the relevance and efficiency (specificity) of training, and prepare players more effectively for competition.

Top 14 – Finally the end of the pounds

By Jeremy Fadat via Midi Olympique

Interesting S&C and Nutrition Article, Less hypertrophy more Strength and Anaerobic Power. translated from the French, reading between the lines some of this is targeting the stretchshortening cycle (SSC) Article in English  Original Article can be found here