Testing methods and physical qualities of male age grade rugby union players : A systematic review

Journal article


Owen, Cameron, Till, Kevin, Weakley, Jonathon and Jones, Ben. (2020). Testing methods and physical qualities of male age grade rugby union players : A systematic review. PLoS ONE. 15(6), p. e0233796. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233796
AuthorsOwen, Cameron, Till, Kevin, Weakley, Jonathon and Jones, Ben
Abstract

Background
Rugby union match demands are complex, requiring the development of multiple physical qualities concurrently. Quantifying the physical qualities of age grade rugby union players is vital for practitioners to support athlete preparation and long-term development.

Aim
This systematic review aimed to identify the methods used to quantify the physical qualities of male age grade (≤ Under-20) rugby union players, present the normative values for physical qualities, and compare physical qualities between age grades and positions.

Methods
Electronic databases were systematically reviewed from the earliest record to November 2019 using key words relating to sex, age, sport and physical testing.

Results
Forty-two studies evaluated the physical qualities of age grade rugby union players. Seventy-five tests were used to quantify body composition, muscular strength, muscular power, linear speed, change of direction ability, aerobic capacity and anaerobic endurance. Thirty-one studies met the eligibility criteria to present the physical qualities. Physical qualities differentiate between age groups below Under-16, while differences in older age groups (Under-16 to Under-20) are not clear. Positional differences are present with forwards possessing greater height, body mass, body fat percentage and strength while backs are faster and have greater aerobic capacities.

Conclusions
A wide variety of tests are used to assess physical qualities limiting between study comparisons. Although differences in older age grades are unclear, older age groups (Under-19-20) generally performed better in physical tests. Positional differences are associated with match demands where forwards are exposed to less running but a greater number of collisions. Practitioners can use the results from this review to evaluate the physical qualities of age grade rugby union players to enhance training prescription, goal setting and player development. Future research should consider the use of national standardised testing batteries due to the inconsistency in testing methods and small samples limiting the reporting of positional differences.

Year2020
JournalPLoS ONE
Journal citation15 (6), p. e0233796
PublisherPublic Library of Science
ISSN1932-6203
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0233796
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85086004705
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-37
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online04 Jun 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted12 May 2020
Deposited08 Jul 2021
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