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Caffeine shown to increase performance in rugby

Caffeine shown to increase performance in rugby players

A new study into the effects of caffeine on rugby players suggests it can significantly enhance performance in several ways.

The study was performed by Gene Stuart, a research student at the Auckland University of Technology and was supervised by AUT’s Professor Will Hopkins.

Professor Hopkins says the findings are important because there have been no previous studies of the effects of caffeine on the way athletes perform in team sports.

“Several studies have shown that caffeine enhances performance of single bouts of endurance exercise such as long distance running, but its effects on repeated bouts typical of those in high-intensity team sports are unclear.

“This study showed benefits for athletes including sprinting speed, fatigue reduction and up to a 10 per cent improvement in passing accuracy. These results are quite remarkable and show there are significant performance advantages across the board,” he says.

The study involved eight competitive male rugby players ingesting either caffeine or a placebo 70 minutes before performing a rugby simulation test. Each test consisted of seven circuits during two 40-minute halves with a 10-minute half-time break.

Each circuit included measurements of sprint time (two straight-line and three agility sprints), power generation in two consecutive drives, and accuracy of passing balls rapidly.

AUT research associate Christian Cook, who was one of the study’s co-authors and member of HortResearch’s Human Performance Group, observed that caffeine increased the release of testosterone in the subjects during the performance test.

Professor Hopkins says that this could have repercussions for athletic training. “Future studies may well show that caffeine has an anabolic when combined with training,” he says.

Professor Hopkins says that while most people get a daily hit of caffeine through drinking coffee, its consumption did not have the same positive effect on physical performance.

“There is something in coffee that reduces the performance-enhancing effects of the caffeine it contains.”

ENDS

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