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Rugby is a worldwide intermittent team sport. Players tend to be heavier than the majority of similar team sport athletes on whom the dietary guidelines have been developed. Therefore, the aim of the current review was to describe the intakes of rugby union players. Article databases were searched up to February 2017 and were included if they were published in English and reported dietary intakes of male rugby union players. Of the research articles identified, energy intakes were lower than two of three studies that reported intakes and expenditure, which would suggest the players were losing weight that is somewhat supported by the decreases in skinfolds seen during preseason. However, it should also be noted that there are errors in both the measurement of energy intakes and expenditure. Carbohydrate intakes ranged from 2.6 to 6.5 g·kg−1·day−1, which is lower than the current relative to body mass recommendations; however, this would not be classed as a low-carbohydrate diet. The consistently low intakes of carbohydrate suggest that these intake levels maybe sufficient for performance, given the players greater body mass or there are errors in the measurements. However, there is currently no evidence for the carbohydrate needs of rugby union players in terms of performance. The lower intakes than expenditure would suggest the players were losing weight. Previous research shows that rugby union players lose body fat during preseason training.
K.E. Black is with the Dept. of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. A.D. Black is with the Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom. Baker is with Chiefs Super Rugby Franchise, Hamilton, New Zealand.