Fitness and body composition profiling of elite junior South African rugby players
Objective. The aim of this study was to describe the body composition, strength and speed characteristics of elite junior South African rugby players. Design. Cross-sectional. Setting. Field study. Subjects. Rugby players (16 and 18 years old, N = 174) selected for the South African Rugby Union National Green Squad. Outcome measures. Body composition, 10 m and 40 m speed, agility, 1RM bench press, underhand pull-ups, push-ups, multistage shuttle run. Results. The under-16 players were on average shorter (175.6 ± 5.7 v. 179.2 ± 6.7 cm), weighed less (76.5 ± 8.2 v. 84.8 ± 8.3 kg) had less upper body absolute strength (77.1 ± 11.8 kg v. 95.3 ± 16.7 kg) and muscular endurance (41 ± 12 v. 52 ± 15 push-ups) and aerobic fitness (87.1 ± 19.4 v. 93.5 ± 15.3 shuttles) than the under-18 players. There were no differences in body fat, sprinting speed (10 m and 40 m) or agility between the two age groups. There were differences between playing positions, with the props having the most body fat, strongest upper bodies, slowest sprinting speed, least agility and lowest aerobic capacity compared with players in the other positions. Conclusion. This study provides data for elite junior rugby players and can be used to monitor the progression of players after intervention while also assisting with talent identification for the different playing positions.
South African Journal of Sports Medicine Vol. 18 (2) 2006: pp. 38-45