Widnes help conduct groundbreaking sports research

Widnes Vikings have helped with a new scientific project carried out by Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

The study examines muscle biopsies taken before and after a game of rugby league, and Widnes have supplied the players to be tested.

LJMU PhD student James Morehen is the Widnes Vikings‘ sports nutritionist, with the club and LJMU enjoying an ongoing working relationship.

“This is a unique study that has the potential to re-write the nutrition guidelines for professional rugby,” said Morehan.

“The partnership between the Vikings and LJMU allows me to gain invaluable applied experience with some fantastic athletes and coaching staff alongside studying my PhD.”

Dr Graeme Close, LJMU reader in Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, explained that the study was to help specifically tailor fitness advice for rugby players.

“For years we have given rugby players advice based on studies in football players but it does not take a genius to realise the two games are completely different,” he said.

“Now we have these data we can begin to formulate rugby specific guidelines.

“This really shows how cutting edge the Widnes Vikings are from a scientific perspective and this is something that I know will build and grow as we look to continually strength the links between the Vikings and LJMU.

Widnes player Ted Chapelhow is one of the players who have participated in the study.

“The experience of this biopsy study was really insightful and gave me and the players a lot of information into how the muscles work and how important a study like this is,” he said.

“When the results come out it will expose us to new information to ensure we are following the right nutritional advice before training and a game.”

Warren Bradley, who is also studying his PhD at LJMU supervised by Dr. Close, believes that the study will help to show just what the exact demands of playing rugby league are.

“This study has provided a unique insight into the metabolic demands of a competitive rugby game,” he said.

“It is exciting to note that once we analyse these data, we will have a much clearer picture of the metabolic demands of a professional rugby game, which will inform the nutritional practices of rugby competition worldwide.”

James Rule, the Vikings chief executive, was pleased that his club was taking part in such a potentially important study.

“At Widnes Vikings we recognise the benefit of innovation and the need to continuosly seek to improve in all areas of our business,” he said.

“We are therefore immensely proud to have partaken in first ever biopsy in rugby league.

“James Morehen has been a revelation for the Vikings since he joined us through our partnership with Liverpool John Moores University partnership at the end of the 2014 season.

“I am hugely excited by this partnership’s potentialas we continue to break new ground in the sports science field together.

“Unique partnership activity such as this muscle biopsy will put both Widnes Vikings and Liverpool John Moores University on the world map. I look forward to seeing the results of this work.”

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