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Anthropometrical and physical characteristics have been used to distinguish players of different competition levels and position groups; however, there is no literature on rugby sevens.
To compare the anthropometrical and physical characteristics of international and provincial rugby sevens players and between forwards and backs.
To assess whether differences exist, 65 rugby sevens players including 22 international players and 43 provincial-level players were assessed for height, mass, body composition, speed, repeated-sprint ability, lower-body power, upper-body strength, and maximal aerobic endurance during in-season preparation for tournaments.
Clear differences (2.8−32%; small to very large effect sizes) were observed in all anthropometrical and physical measures between international and provincial players, with the largest differences observed in repeated-sprint ability (5.7%; very large effect size), 40-m-sprint time (4.4%; large effect size), 50-kg squat-jump peak power (32%; large effect size), and multistage fitness-test performance (19%; large effect size). Fewer and smaller differences (0.7−14%; trivial to large effect sizes) were found when comparing forwards and backs, with body height being the most discriminant characteristic (3.5%; large effect size).
Lower-level rugby sevens players should seek to improve their overall physical profile, particularly their repeated-sprint ability, to reach higher levels in rugby sevens. Furthermore, positional status may have little importance when preparing for rugby sevens.
The authors are with the Sports Performance Research Inst New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.