• The content and load of preseason field-based training in a championship winning professional rugby league team: A case study

      Fairbank, Matthew; Highton, Jamie; Daniels, Matthew; Twist, Craig; University of Chester; St Helens RFC (Sage, 2022-01-07)
      This study reports on the content and periodisation of the preseason field-based training for a professional rugby league team. Thirty elite male rugby league players (26 ± 5 y, 180.9 ± 6.5 cm, 94 ± 9 kg) completed an 8-week preseason. Global positioning system devices and heart rate were used to monitor physical and physiological responses of different field-based training components (speed, conditioning, rugby skill and game-based training). Rugby skill training contributed the most to total distance covered, conditioning was the greatest contributor to high-speed running (>15 km.h-1) and game-based training provided the greatest high metabolic distance (>20 W.kg-1) and overall external load. Game-based training provided the greatest time with heart rate 80% estimated maximum. Field-based training comprised a 4-week increase in total distance, followed by a “regeneration week” in week 5 before a peak in load during week 6. The weekly pre-season cycle had lower loads on Monday and Thursday whereas Tuesday and Friday produced the highest loads. The preseason described herein adopted a progressive overload comprising a weekly undulating cycle. This study emphasises how skill and games-based training contributes significantly to the overall load of a professional rugby league team’s preseason with more traditional conditioning promoting high speed running load and high metabolic load.
    • Passive heat maintenance after an initial warm-up improves high intensity activity during an interchange rugby league match simulation protocol.

      Fairbank, Matthew; Highton, Jamie M.; Twist, Craig; University of Chester; St Helens RFC (Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, 2019-01-01)
      This study examined using passive heat maintenance to maintain core temperature after a warm-up and its effect on first half running performance in rugby players. Thirteen male rugby players completed this randomized crossover study. Tympanic temperature was taken before a warm-up and then after a further 15 minutes passive recovery either with (PHM) or without (CON) a passive heat maintenance garment. Participants then completed 23 min of the rugby league match simulation protocol (RLMSP-i). Differences in tympanic temperature were unclear between CON and PHM before (35.7 ± 1.3 cf. 36.0 ± 1.1oC; ES = 0.20) and during exercise (34.5 ± 0.1 cf. 35.2 ± 0.1oC; ES = 0.26-0.35). High-intensity running (ES = 0.27) and peak sprint speed were higher (ES = 0.46-0.56) during the PHM compared to the CON trial. Time spent above 20 W.kg-1 also increased in the first quartile of PHM compared to CON trial (ES = 0.18). All other between trial comparisons of performance were unclear. HRmean (ES = 0.38) was higher in PHM compared to CON, while differences in RPEmean (ES = -0.19) were unclear. There are small to large increases in high intensity work performed during a playing bout when rugby players wear a PHM garment after a warm-up. Rugby players should consider PHM during extended periods of time between a warm-up and starting a match.