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Br J Sports Med 34:303-307 doi:10.1136/bjsm.34.4.303
  • Original article

Physiological and anthropometric characteristics of amateur rugby league players

  1. Tim J Gabbett
  1. School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Griffith University Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to: T J Gabbett, School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, Griffith University Gold Coast, PMB50 Gold Coast Mail Centre, Queensland, Australia 9726 email: t.gabbett{at}mailbox.gu.edu.au
  • Accepted 10 March 2000

Abstract

Objectives—To investigate the physiological and anthropometric characteristics of amateur rugby league players.

Methods—Thirty five amateur rugby league players (19 forwards and 16 backs) were measured for height, body mass, percentage body fat (sum of four skinfolds), muscular power (vertical jump), speed (10 m and 40 m sprint), and maximal aerobic power (multistage fitness test). Data were also collected on match frequency, training status, playing experience, and employment related physical activity levels.

Results—The 10 m and 40 m sprint, vertical jump, percentage body fat, and multistage fitness test results were 20–42% poorer than previously reported for professional rugby league players. Compared with forwards, backs had significantly (p<0.01) lower body mass (79.7 (74.7–84.7) kg v 90.8 (86.2–95.4) kg) and significantly (p<0.01) greater speed during the 40 m sprint (6.45 (6.35–6.55) v 6.79 (6.69–6.89) seconds). Values for percentage body fat, vertical jump, 10 m sprint, and maximal aerobic power were not significantly different (p>0.05) between forwards and backs. When compared with professional rugby league players, the training status of amateur rugby league players was 30–53% lower, with players devoting less than three hours a week to team training sessions and about 30 minutes a week to individual training sessions. The training time devoted to the development of muscular power (about 13 minutes a week), speed (about eight minutes a week), and aerobic fitness (about 34 minutes a week) did not differ significantly (p>0.05) between forwards and backs. At the time of the field testing, players had participated, on average, in one 60 minute match every eight days.

Conclusions—The physiological and anthropometric characteristics of amateur rugby league players are poorly developed. These findings suggest that position specific training does not occur in amateur rugby league. The poor fitness of non-elite players may be due to a low playing intensity, infrequent matches of short duration, and/or an inappropriate training stimulus.

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