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Jake Schuster, Dan Howells, Julien Robineau, Anthony Couderc, Alex Natera, Nick Lumley, Tim J. Gabbett and Nick Winkelman

across all levels to create parity of competition, physical preparation comes into focus in a sport with unique match and competition demands. The aims of this paper are to provide a detailed outline of current practice methods used by practitioners at the highest level of physical preparation in rugby

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Samuel Ryan, Aaron J. Coutts, Joel Hocking, Patrick A. Dillon, Anthony Whitty and Thomas Kempton

through player well being and subsequent match performance. Collectively, previous research has highlighted the importance of physical preparation on match availability and elements of physical and technical match performance in team sport athletes. While these studies have expanded current knowledge on

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Tim J. Gabbett and Rod Whiteley

The authors have observed that in professional sporting organizations the staff responsible for physical preparation and medical care typically practice in relative isolation and display tension as regards their attitudes toward training-load prescription (much more and much less training, respectively). Recent evidence shows that relatively high chronic training loads, when they are appropriately reached, are associated with reduced injury risk and better performance. Understanding this link between performance and training loads removes this tension but requires a better understanding of the relationship between the acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR) and its association with performance and injury. However, there remain many questions in the area of ACWR, and we are likely at an early stage of our understanding of these parameters and their interrelationships. This opinion paper explores these themes and makes recommendations for improving performance through better synergies in support-staff approaches. Furthermore, aspects of the ACWR that remain to be clarified—the role of shared decision making, risk:benefit estimation, and clearer accountability—are discussed.

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Dale B. Read, Ben Jones, Sean Williams, Padraic J. Phibbs, Josh D. Darrall-Jones, Greg A.B. Roe, Jonathon J.S. Weakley, Andrew Rock and Kevin Till

players or if this is specific to age-grade players, as this would potentially change the current understanding of the locomotor characteristics for forwards and backs and inform the physical preparation of players. It is also important to understand how the phases of play compare within the same position

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James M. Rhodes, Barry S. Mason, Thomas A.W. Paulson and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey

, the ability to reach high peak speeds and perform a greater number of high-speed activities has been associated with successful performance, specifically in high-point players. 5 Subsequently, the physical demands of WCR competition have been relatively well documented. The physical preparation of

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Patrick G. Campbell, Jonathan M. Peake and Geoffrey M. Minett

Purpose: Investigations into the specificity of rugby union training practices in preparation for competitive demands have predominantly focused on physical and physiological demands. The evaluation of the contextual variance in perceptual strain or skill requirements between training and matches in rugby union is unclear, yet holistic understanding may assist to optimize training design. This study evaluated the specificity of physical, physiological, perceptual, and skill demands of training sessions compared with competitive match play in preprofessional, elite club rugby union. Methods: Global positioning system devices, video capture, heart rate, and session ratings of perceived exertion were used to assess movement patterns, skill completions, physiologic, and perceptual responses, respectively. Data were collected across a season (training sessions n = 29; matches n = 14). Participants (n = 32) were grouped in playing positions as: outside backs, centers, halves, loose forwards, lock forwards, and front row forwards. Results: Greater total distance, low-intensity activity, maximal speed, and meters per minute were apparent in matches compared with training in all positions (P < .02; d > 0.90). Similarly, match heart rate and session ratings of perceived exertion responses were higher than those recorded in training (P < .05; d > 0.8). Key skill completions for forwards (ie, scrums, rucks, and lineouts) and backs (ie, kicks) were greater under match conditions than in training (P < .001; d > 1.50). Conclusion: Considerable disparities exist between the perceptual, physiological, and key skill demands of competitive matches versus training sessions in preprofessional rugby union players. Practitioners should consider the specificity of training tasks for preprofessional rugby players to ensure the best preparation for match demands.

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Dustin J. Oranchuk, Eric J. Drinkwater, Riki S. Lindsay, Eric R. Helms, Eric T. Harbour and Adam G. Storey

kinetic, kinematic, and strength outcomes from using the HG translate to superior adaptations and performance over time, which can only be answered by a longitudinal training study. Practical Applications Athletes and coaches who implement weightlifting movements in their physical preparation should adopt

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Matthew R. Blair, Nathan Elsworthy, Nancy J. Rehrer, Chris Button and Nicholas D. Gill

—rules change and players further develop physically—this may continue to place new demands on the referees and physical preparation must evolve to mimic these changing demands. Practical Applications This study provides strength and conditioning staff with a detail analysis of the physical and physiological

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Grant M. Duthie

Increased professionalism in rugby has resulted in national unions developing high-performance models for elite player development, of which physical preparation is an important component, to ensure success in future years. This article presents a 5-step framework for the physical preparation of elite players in a development program. Competition movement patterns and the physical profiles of elite players are used as the basis of the framework and reinforce the repeated high-intensity nature of Rugby Union. Physical profiling highlights a player’s strengths and weaknesses in the areas of strength, speed, endurance, and body composition. These qualities need to be managed with an understanding of their interaction. This framework should be implemented within the yearly plan to ensure that benefits are maximized from the training undertaken. The success of the framework in developing elite players’ progression can be evaluated using standardized physical, performance, and competency tests.

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Dean J. McNamara, Tim J. Gabbett, Geraldine Naughton, Patrick Farhart and Paul Chapman

Purpose:

This study investigated key fatigue and workload variables of cricket fast bowlers and nonfast bowlers during a 7-wk physical-preparation period and 10-d intensified competition period.

Methods:

Twenty-six elite junior cricketers (mean ± SD age 17.7 ± 1.1 y) were classified as fast bowlers (n = 9) or nonfast bowlers (n = 17). Individual workloads were measured via global positioning system technology, and neuromuscular function (countermovement jump [relative power and flight time]), endocrine (salivary testosterone and cortisol concentrations), and perceptual well-being (soreness, mood, stress, sleep quality, and fatigue) markers were recorded.

Results:

Fast bowlers performed greater competition total distance (median [interquartile range] 7049 [3962] m vs 5062 [3694] m), including greater distances at low and high speeds, and more accelerations (40 [32] vs 19 [21]) and had a higher player load (912 [481] arbitrary units vs 697 [424] arbitrary units) than nonfast bowlers. Cortisol concentrations were higher in the physical-preparation (mean ± 90% confidence intervals, % likelihood; d = –0.88 ± 0.39, 100%) and competition phases (d = –0.39 ± 0.30, 85%), and testosterone concentrations, lower (d = 0.56 ± 0.29, 98%), in the competition phase in fast bowlers. Perceptual well-being was poorer in nonfast bowlers during competition only (d = 0.36 ± 0.22, 88%). Differences in neuromuscular function between groups were unclear during physical preparation and competition.

Conclusions:

These findings demonstrate differences in the physical demands of cricket fast bowlers and nonfast bowlers and suggest that these external workloads differentially affect the neuromuscular, endocrine, and perceptual fatigue responses of these players.