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Purpose: The present study aimed to verify if practicing tackles during rugby union training sessions would affect the players’ internal training load and acute strength loss. Method: A total of 9 male Italian Serie A rugby union players (age: 21  y) were monitored by means of an integrated approach across 17 sessions, 6 with tackles (WT) and 11 with no tackles (NT). Edwards training load was quantified using heart-rate monitoring. Global positioning system devices were used to quantify the total distance and time at >20 W. Work-to-rest ratio was quantified by means of a video analysis. Before (PRE) and after (POST) the session, the players’ well-being and rating of perceived exertion were measured, respectively. The countermovement jump and plyometric push-up jump tests were performed on a force plate to record the players’ PRE–POST concentric peak force. Linear mixed models were applied to quantify the differences between WT and NT in terms of training load and PRE–POST force deltas, even controlling for other training factors. Results: The Edwards training load (estimated mean [EM]; standard error [SE]; WT: EM = 214, SE = 11.8; NT: EM = 194, SE = 11.1; P = .01) and session rating of perceived exertion (WT: EM = 379, SE = 21.9; NT: EM = 277, SE = 16.4; P < .001) were higher in WT than in NT. Conversely, no difference between the sessions emerged in the countermovement jump and plyometric push-up concentric peak force deltas. Conclusions: Although elite rugby union players’ external and internal training load can be influenced by practicing tackles, upper- and lower-limb strength seem to not be affected.
Lupo, Ungureanu, Boccia, Rainoldi, and Brustio are with the Neuromuscular Function Research Group, School of Exercise & Sport Sciences (SUISM), Dept of Medical Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy. Licciardi is with the School of Exercise & Sport Sciences (SUISM), Dept of Medical Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.