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S Afr Med J. 1988 May 7;73(9):529-32.

Physiological characteristics of rugby players including muscle glycogen content and muscle fibre composition.

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Department of Physiology, University of Cape Town.


There are few studies of the anthropomorphic and physiological characteristics of South African rugby players. Twenty-nine club rugby players were evaluated for body composition, maximal treadmill performance, muscle fibre composition and the muscle glycogen content, including the effects of carbohydrate-loading and playing a rugby match. The body composition and physiological characteristics of the players were similar to that previously reported for international players. Very high absolute values for maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) were measured in the forwards. Both backs and forwards had a preponderance of fast-twitch muscle fibres (57% and 53% respectively). Carbohydrate-loading increased pre-match muscle glycogen content but was unnecessary since severe muscle glycogen depletion did not occur during a match even in players on a normal mixed diet before competition. It is concluded that for forwards, a high absolute VO2 max, and for both backs and forwards a predominance of fast-twitch muscle fibres are pre-requisites for success in this sport. Pre-match carbohydrate-loading would appear to be necessary only when more than one match is to be played within 48 hours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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