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Katherine Elizabeth Black, Alistair David Black, and Dane Frances Baker

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.

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Bridget Ellen Philippa Bourke, Dane Francis Baker, and Andrea Jane Braakhuis

Social media contains a wealth of nutrition information and proposes a cost-effective, highly engaging platform to deliver nutrition information to athletes. This study used an online questionnaire to determine whether New Zealand athletes are using social media as a source of nutrition information and to understand perceptions of social media as a nutrition resource. Quantitative data were analyzed using t tests, chi-squared tests, and logistic regression analysis. Inductive thematic analysis was adopted for the qualitative data. From the 306 athletes who completed the questionnaire, 65% reported social media use for nutrition purposes in the past 12 months. Social media use was predicted by both athlete status and gender. Female athletes were more likely to have used social media for nutrition purposes (odds ratio = 2.7, 95% confidence interval [1.52, 4.62], p = .001) than males. Elite athletes were less likely to have used social media for nutrition (odds ratio = 0.44, 95% confidence interval [0.24, 0.83], p = .011) than recreational athletes. Athletes commonly used social media for practical nutrition purposes, including recipes and information about restaurants/cafes. Perceived advantages of social media as a nutrition resource included ease of access, well-presented information, personal connectedness, and information richness. Athletes’ primary concern for obtaining nutrition information from social media was information unreliability.

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Francisco Tavares, Martyn Beaven, Júlia Teles, Dane Baker, Phil Healey, Tiaki B. Smith, and Matthew Driller

Purpose: Although the acute effects of cold-water immersion (CWI) have been widely investigated, research analyzing the effects of CWI over a chronic period in highly trained athletes is scarce. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of CWI during an intense 3-wk preseason phase in elite rugby athletes. Methods : A total of 23 elite male rugby union athletes were randomized to either CWI (10 min at 10°C, n = 10) or a passive recovery control (CON, n = 13) during 3 wk of high-volume training. Athletes were exposed to either CWI or CON after each training day (12 d in total). Running loads, conditioning, and gym sessions were kept the same between groups. Measures of countermovement jump, perceived muscle soreness, and wellness were obtained twice a week, and saliva samples for determining cortisol and interleukin-6 were collected once per week. Results : Although no significant differences were observed between CWI and CON for any measure, CWI resulted in lower fatigue markers throughout the study as demonstrated by the moderate effects on muscle soreness (d = 0.58–0.91) and interleukin-6 (d = −0.83) and the small effects (d = 0.23–0.38) on countermovement jump in comparison with CON. Conclusions : CWI may provide some beneficial effect by reducing fatigue and soreness during an intense 3-wk training phase in elite rugby athletes.

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Marcia L. Jerram, Dane Baker, Tiaki B. Smith, Phil Healey, Lee Taylor, and Katherine Black

Purpose: Menthol mouth swills can improve endurance performance in the heat, which is attributed to attenuations in nonthermally derived thermal sensation (TS) and perception of effort. However, research in elite team-sport athletes is absent. Therefore, this study investigated the performance and TS responses to a 0.1% menthol mouth rinse (MR) or placebo (PLA) among elite male rugby union players. Method: Twenty-seven (15 Forwards and 12 Backs) elite male Super Rugby players completed two 3-minute 15-a-side rugby-specific conditioning blocks, with MR or PLA provided at the start of training (baseline), at the start of each 3-minute block (swill 1 [S1] and swill 2 [S2]), and at the end of training (swill 3 [S3]). TS was assessed using the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers 9-point Analog Sensation Scale after each swill and at baseline (preconditioning block). Acceptability was measured after baseline swill and S3 using a 5-question Likert scale. Physical performance was measured throughout training using global positioning system metrics. Results: MR attenuated TS from baseline to S1 (P = .003, SD = 1.01) and S2 (P = .002, SD = 1.09) in Forwards only, compared with PLA. Acceptability was higher only for Forwards in MR versus PLA at baseline (P = .003, SD = 1.3) and S3 (P = .004, SD = 0.75). MR had no effect on physical performance metrics (P > .05). Conclusion: MR attenuated the rise in TS with higher acceptability at S1 and S3 (in Forwards only) with no effect on selected physical performance metrics. Longer-duration exercise (eg, a match) in hot–humid conditions eliciting markedly increased body temperatures could theoretically allow favorable changes in TS to enhance performance—these postulations warrant experimental investigation.