Leeds Beckett University launches landmark study to help shape future of women’s rugby league

Leeds Beckett University has been commissioned by the Rugby Football League to lead a major initiative to help benefit the women’s game, from national level to grassroots.

The study, the most comprehensive study of its type undertaken in any sport, will see all clubs in the Women’s Super League taking part across the course of the 2020/21 season. Players will participate in ongoing fitness testing, injury surveillance and quantification of match demands and performance. The fitness testing data will be presented back via an innovative data visualisation platform, allowing players to compare themselves to all other players in the league.

Following a fitness testing session that took place in January, every Women’s Super League team squad member is being monitored across the entire Super League season in order to monitor injuries, including concussion rates, generate more effective fitness programmes and, ultimately, improve standards.

A number of workshops for coaching and medical staff to look at performance barriers and risk factors will also take place.

Professor Ben Jones, Professor of Sports Physiology and Performance at Leeds Beckett University, who is leading the study, said: “We are excited about the opportunities this research will bring in helping to have a big impact in shaping the game for women’s rugby league moving forwards.

“We are hopeful that its outcomes will not only improve standards at elite level but, over time, have positive impacts at all levels, including grassroots, and encourage wider participation.

“The fitness testing scores will allow players and coaches to identify strengths and weaknesses, not only in comparison to teammates, but also to other players across the league. This will create more competition and more world-class players.

“The data sets collected will provide information on the physical profile of female rugby league players and how they change over a season. This will provide information to support coaches on how to train the female athlete and, in turn, drive forward performance and standards.

“The research team is also quantifying the demands of match play to understand the suitability of the current structure for women’s rugby league across numerous areas. Any potential outcomes and improvements will be dependent on the data collected.”

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