Talent identification in an English Premiership rugby union academy: multidisciplinary characteristics of selected and non-selected male under-15 players
journal contributionposted on 23.02.2022, 12:02 authored by Francesco Dimundo, Matthew Cole, Richard BlagroveRichard Blagrove, Alexander B. T. McAuley, Kevin Till, Adam L. Kelly
Entry into an academy can be a defining moment for a promising young player. The aim of this study was to explore the multidimensional characteristics that differentiated selected and non-selected male under-15 rugby union players at an English Premiership academy. Seventy-four players (mean age 14.6 ± 0.3 years: selected n = 29; non-selected n = 45) were measured across nine characteristics from four overarching factors: (a) anthropometric (n = 2), (b) physiological (n = 5), (c) cognitive (n = 1), and (d) birth quartile. An ANOVA compared differences between groups (selected vs. non-selected), whilst a Welch's t-test and Cohen's d were used for further comparisons. A multivariate logistic regression was also used to predict selection. Results showed significant differences between selected and non-selected players for anthropometric (P = 0.021) and physiological factors (P < 0.001). Moreover, relatively older players were overrepresented with 65% born in the first half of the year, whereas no significant differences were apparent for the cognitive test. More specifically, selected players possessed greater body mass (P = 0.022, d = 0.5) and handgrip strength (P = 0.020, d = 0.5) compared to non-selected players, whilst multivariate analysis showed the 20 m sprint explained 25.4% of the variance (P = 0.001). Overall, it appears selection into an English Premiership rugby union academy may be due to enhanced physical attributes rather than cognitive abilities.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences