Anthropometric and three-compartment body composition differences between super league and championship rugby league players: Considerations for the 2015 season and beyond

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Abstract

Super League (SL) and Championship (RLC) rugby league players will compete against each other in 2015 and beyond. To identify possible discrepancies, this study compared the anthropometric profile and body composition of current SL (full-time professional) and RLC (part-time semi-professional) players using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). A cross-sectional design involved DXA scans on 67 SL (n=29 backs, n=38 forwards) and 46 RLC (n=20 backs, n=26 forwards) players during preseason. A one-way ANOVA was used to compare age, stature, body mass, soft tissue fat percentage, bone mineral content (BMC), total and regional (i.e., arms, legs and trunk) fat and lean mass between SL forwards, SL backs, RLC forwards and RLC backs. No significant differences in age, stature or body mass were observed. SL forwards and backs had relatively less soft tissue fat (17.5 ± 3.7 and 14.8 ± 3.6 vs. 21.4 ± 4.3 and 20.8 ± 3.8%), greater BMC (4,528 ± 443 and 4,230 ± 447 vs. 4,302 ± 393 and 3,971 ± 280 g), greater trunk lean mass (37.3 ± 3.0 and 35.3 ± 3.8 vs. 34.9 ± 32.3 and 32.3 ± 2.6 kg) and less trunk fat mass (8.5 ± 2.7 and 6.2 ± 2.1 vs. 10.7 ± 2.8 and 9.5 ± 2.9 kg) than RLC forwards and backs. Observed differences may reflect selection based on favourable physical attributes, or training adaptations. To reduce this discrepancy, some RLC players should reduce fat mass and increase lean mass, which may be of benefit for the 2015 season and beyond.

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Jones, B., Till, K., Barlow, M., Lees, M., O’Hara, J. P., & Hind, K. (2015). Anthropometric and three-compartment body composition differences between super league and championship rugby league players: Considerations for the 2015 season and beyond. PLoS ONE, 10(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0133188

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