A comparison of physiological and anthropometric characteristics among playing positions in sub-elite rugby league players

Tim J Gabbett
Journal of Sports Sciences 2006, 24 (12): 1273-80
This study compared the physiological and anthropometric characteristics of specific playing positions and positional playing groups in sub-elite rugby league players. Altogether, 415 sub-elite rugby league players underwent measurements of standard anthropometry (body mass, height, sum of four skinfolds), muscular power (vertical jump), speed (10-m, 20-m, and 40-m sprint), agility ("L" run), and estimated maximal aerobic power (multi-stage fitness test). Props were significantly heavier and had a greater skinfold thickness than all other playing positions. Centres, fullbacks, and hookers were faster than props over 40 m. When the data were analysed according to positional commonality, props were taller, heavier, had a greater skinfold thickness, were less agile, and were slower over 10 m than all other positional groups. The hookers/halves and outside backs positional groups were significantly faster over 40 m than the backrowers and props positional groups. In addition, the hookers/halves and outside backs positional groups had significantly greater estimated maximal aerobic power than the props positional group. The results of this study demonstrate that few physiological and anthropometric differences exist among individual playing positions in sub-elite rugby league players, although props are taller, heavier, have greater skinfold thickness, slower 10-m and 40-m speed, less agility, and lower estimated maximal aerobic power than other positional groups. These findings provide normative data for sub-elite rugby league players competing in specific individual positions and positional playing groups.

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