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Dimundo et al 2021 JoE Talent identification and development in male rugby union - review.pdf (577.78 kB)

Talent identification and development in male rugby union: a systematic review

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journal contribution
posted on 2021-05-05, 11:28 authored by Francesco Dimundo, Matthew Cole, Richard BlagroveRichard Blagrove, Kevin Till, Alexander B. T. McAuley, Mike Hall, Chim Gale, Adam L. Kelly
The pathway towards expertise in sport has been studied within different contexts. Various methodological approaches have been used in research to explore the processes of talent identification (TID) and talent development (TD) in rugby union (RU). The aim of this study was to critically review the existing literature on TID and TD in RU in order to outline where the existing research lies, identify the most researched topics, and provide updated guidance for coaches, practitioners, and future research. Searches were conducted in the electronic databases PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, SPORTDiscus, and Google Scholar. The following Boolean combination key words were applied: rugby union, AND, talent identification, talent development, early selection, youth selection, talent transfer, and youth development. This process was carried out in accordance with PRISMA guidelines. Databases provided 382 studies, with a total of 253 articles fully assessed (IRR = 98.6%, k = 0.94), of which a further 234 were excluded (IRR = 97.7%, k = 0.85). Following this screening, 15 articles were added from studies and review citations, resulting in a total of 34 articles included in the review. The ecological dynamics framework was applied to collate factors from the one- and multi-dimensional findings (Sarmento et al., 2018). The most investigated topics were as follows: (1) task constraints: (a) participation history; (2) performer constraints: (a) psychological factors; (b) technical and tactical skills; (c) anthropometric factors; (d) physiological factors; (3) environmental constraints: (a) relative age effects; (b) socio-cultural factors. Practitioners need to consider the players’ anthropometric, physiological, psychological, technical, and tactical profile, when selecting and developing young rugby union players. Further longitudinal mixed-method research is required to provide indications of the success of talent identification and development processes, to gain a better understanding on how these factors can affect selection and long-term progress.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Journal of Expertise






33 - 55


Michigan State University


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© The Authors

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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Michigan State University under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence (CC BY 3.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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Dr Richard Blagrove. Deposit date: 5 May 2021

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