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Nicola Furlan, Mark Waldron, Mark Osborne and Adrian J. Gray

Purpose:

To assess the ecological validity of the Rugby Sevens Simulation Protocol (R7SP) and to evaluate its interday reliability.

Methods:

Ten male participants (20 ± 2 y, 74 ± 11 kg) completed 2 trials of the R7SP, separated by 7 d. The R7SP comprised typical running and collision activities, based on data recorded during international rugby sevens match play. Heart rate (HR) was monitored continuously during the R7SP, and the participants’ movements were recorded through a 20-Hz global positioning system unit. Blood lactate and rating of perceived exertion were collected before and immediately after the 1st and 2nd halves of the R7SP.

Results:

The average activity profile was 117 ± 5 m/min, of which 27 ± 2 m/min was covered at high speed, with a calculated energetic demand of 1037 ± 581 J/kg, of which ~40% was expended at a rate above 19 W/kg. Mean HR was 88% ± 4% of maximal HR. Participants spent ~45% ± 27% of time above 90% of maximal HR (t >90%HRmax). There were no significant differences between trials, except for lactate between the halves of the R7SP. The majority of the measured variables demonstrated a between-trials coefficient of variation (CV%) lower than 5%. Blood lactate measurements (14–20% CV) and t >90%HRmax (26% CV) were less reliable variables. In most cases, the calculated moderate worthwhile change was higher than the CV%.

Conclusions:

The R7SP replicates the activity profile and HR responses of rugby sevens match play. It is a reliable simulation protocol that can be used in a research environment to detect systematic worthwhile changes in selected performance variables.

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Mark Evans, Peter Tierney, Nicola Gray, Greg Hawe, Maria Macken and Brendan Egan

The effects of acute ingestion of caffeine on short-duration high-intensity performance are equivocal, while studies of novel modes of delivery and the efficacy of low doses of caffeine are warranted. The aims of the present study were to investigate the effect of acute ingestion of caffeinated chewing gum on repeated sprint performance (RSP) in team sport athletes, and whether habitual caffeine consumption alters the ergogenic effect, if any, on RSP. A total of 18 male team sport athletes undertook four RSP trials using a 40-m maximum shuttle run test, which incorporates 10 × 40-m sprints with 30 s between the start of each sprint. Each participant completed two familiarization sessions, followed by caffeine (CAF; caffeinated chewing gum; 200 mg caffeine) and placebo (PLA; noncaffeinated chewing gum) trials in a randomized, double-blind manner. RSP, assessed by sprint performance decrement (%), did not differ (p = .209; effect size = 0.16; N = 18) between CAF (5.00 ± 2.84%) and PLA (5.43 ± 2.68%). Secondary analysis revealed that low habitual caffeine consumers (<40 mg/day, n = 10) experienced an attenuation of sprint performance decrement during CAF relative to PLA (5.53 ± 3.12% vs. 6.53 ± 2.91%, respectively; p = .049; effect size =0.33); an effect not observed in moderate/high habitual caffeine consumers (>130 mg/day, n = 6; 3.98 ± 2.57% vs. 3.80 ± 1.79%, respectively; p = .684; effect size = 0.08). The data suggest that a low dose of caffeine in the form of caffeinated chewing gum attenuates the sprint performance decrement during RSP by team sport athletes with low, but not moderate-to-high, habitual consumption of caffeine.