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Br J Sports Med. 1996 Mar;30(1):53-6.

The New Zealand rugby injury and performance project. IV. Anthropometric and physical performance comparisons between positional categories of senior A rugby players.

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Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Medical School, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.



To describe the anthropometric and physical performance characteristics of a sample of senior A club rugby players and to highlight differences between the positional categories of the players within the forwards and backs.


94 senior A male rugby players were assessed on a number of anthropometric and physical performance assessments. The forwards were categorised into props, hookers, locks, and loose forwards. Backs were categorised into inside, midfield, and outside backs. Categories within the forwards were compared with each other, as were the categories within the backs.


The anthropometric characteristics of forwards differed significantly between positional categories. Front row forwards (props and hookers) possessed highly endo-mesomorphic somatotypes, and typically rated very low for ectomorphy. Props possessed greater body mass than hookers. Locks and loose forwards were taller than the front row forwards. In terms of physical performance fewer differences were observed. Hookers performed better than props on an aerobic assessment. Locks and loose forwards were faster than the front row forwards on a 30 m sprint from a running start. The inside backs were shorter and lighter than the midfield and outside backs.


The combination of anthropometric characteristics and physical performance attributes observed allows players to best meet the demands imposed on them by their position.

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