Variances in Strength and Conditioning Practice in Elite Rugby Union Between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres

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Abstract

Jones, TW, Smith, A, Macnaughton, LS, and French, DN. Variances in strength and conditioning practice in elite Rugby Union between the Northern and Southern hemispheres. J Strength Cond Res 31(12): 3358–3371, 2017—The strength and conditioning (S and C) practices in elite Rugby Union (RU) have previously been detailed. There is also research that indicates playing styles can differ between Northern hemisphere (NH) and Southern hemisphere (SH) teams. It is not presently known if these variances in playing styles are reflected in the S and C practices of those supporting NH and SH teams. As such, the present study examines any variances in S and C practices between those supporting NH and SH elite-level teams. A validated questionnaire was employed that comprised 7 sections: personal details, physical testing, strength and power development, concurrent training, unique aspects of the program, and any further relevant information regarding prescribed training programs. Forty (20 NH, 20 SH, 38 males, 2 females; 33.0 ± 5.5 years) of 52 (77%) coaches responded to the questionnaire. All practitioners worked with international level or professional RU athletes. The primary variances in S and C practice between NH and SH coaches included utilization of differing tests of anaerobic capacity and cardiovascular endurance and differing prescription of compound and Olympic lifts. Also, NH coaches placed a greater emphasis on strength and power training, whereas SH coaches had a more objective approach to determining strength training loads. Furthermore, SH practitioners placed more emphasis on integration compared with NH practitioners. Other aspects of S and C practice detailed in this article appear to be similar between NH and SH practitioners. This research represents the only published survey to date of differing S and C practices in NH and SH RU.

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