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The relationship between physiological and performance variables during a hot/humid international rugby sevens tournament

Purpose: To characterise core temperature (Tc) along with predictors of Tc during an international rugby sevens tournament played in hot/humid conditions. Methods: Tc was collected from 11 elite men’s rugby sevens athletes (age 24 ± 3 years) competing in the Oceania sevens tournament in Suva, Fiji. Game specific external load data [playing minutes, total running distance, high speed running distance (HSD)], psychrometric wet bulb temperature (WBTp) and exertional heat illness (EHI) symptoms were also collected. Cohen’s effect sizes (d) were used to assess differences in Tc across measurement periods was, while linear regression was used to assess the effect of external load and post warm-up Tc on peak game Tc. Results: Compared to baseline on both tournament days, mean Tc was higher at all subsequent time-points, including between games (all d > 1.30). On both tournament days, eight athletes (~73%) reached a peak game Tc > 39.0 °C. with several athletes reaching > 39.0 °C during warm-ups. The final game of the tournament recorded the highest mean peak Tc (39.1 ± 0.3 °C). Mean Tc was related to playing minutes, total running distance, HSD, and post warm-up Tc (all p < 0.01). Conclusions: Tc during warm-ups and games regularly exceeded those demonstrated to be detrimental to repeated sprint performance (> 39 °C). Warm-up Tc represents the easiest predictor of game peak Tc to control via the use of appropriate pre- and per-cooling strategies. Practitioners should be prepared to modulate warm-ups and other heat preparation strategies based on likely environmental conditions faced in these tournaments.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Wiley Open Access
This is an author’s accepted version of article published in European Journal of Sport Science. © 2021 Wiley.