Talent Identification in an English Premiership Rugby Union Academy: Multidisciplinary Characteristics of Selected and Non-selected Male Under-15 Players

Francesco Dimundo, Matthew Cole, Richard C. Blagrove, Alexander B. T. McAuley, Kevin Till, Adam L. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Sports and Active Living
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

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