Study shows size does not matter for young players

A study has shown that young rugby players who are bigger than their peers during their adolescent years are less likely to make it in the professional game.

The study was led by Leeds Beckett University, who analysed 580 youngsters between 2005 and 2007 who had been chosen for the RFL’s talent development programme.

Results showed that those developing and are bigger at aged 14 or under are less likely to make it as a professional rugby league player than their smaller peers. 

The study also discovered how the adolescent’s position affected their likeliness of ‘making it’, with results showing that junior pivots are more likely to make it into the game than junior props.

Further to this, results suggested that relative age could play a factor in the chances of a player becoming a professional. The findings showed that players selected to the programme but born later in the annual age category (June-August) were three times more likely to go further in the sport than those born earlier in the year (September-November).

Lead researcher Dr Kevin Till, who is also the strength and conditioning coach at Leeds Rhinos, believes players shouldn’t have to stick to one position during their early years as it does not aid them in the coming years. 

“Young players shouldn’t be pigeonholed into a certain playing positions as our findings indicate that can limit their development and hamper their opportunities,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. 

“Coaches need to look to develop all players’ attributed, rather than pick for certain positions on size alone.”

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