SAINTS players have been put through their paces at the University of Chester, as part of a joint project between the RFL and the university, evaluating the physical qualities of professional rugby league players.
The project, which is being led by Professor Craig Twist and PhD student Nick Dobbin, both from the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, is aiming to collect data from players with all Super League clubs in the UK, to inform training and talent development practices within the sport.
It is being run in collaboration with the RFL’s performance department.
Professor Twist said: “St Helens RFC is a long-time partner of our department. The club’s head of strength and conditioning, Matt Daniels, has always taken an innovative approach to preparing and managing his players and, over the last five years, he has engaged in several applied research projects with us.
“These have been used to inform the club’s own training, rehabilitation and selection practices, as well as contributing to several peer-reviewed papers and postgraduate projects.
“St Helens is also very supportive when it comes to student learning opportunities, and has provided numerous placements for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in several areas of sport science.”
For the research project, both first grade and academy players attended the University recently to be put through a battery of rugby specific tests that assess each player’s physical qualities.
The data gathered will also be used by the club to monitor individual player training and evaluate adaptations as the pre-season progresses. The university is also helping the club’s medical team with some neuromuscular screening, which will be useful if players get injured later in the season.
Craig Twist added: “Over the last 10 years, the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences has developed a very strong research profile in rugby league. In collaboration with the RFL and a range of professional and amateur clubs, we believe this work has enabled us to produce some impactful research that continues to inform practitioners’ work across the game.
“St Helens RFC, and Matt Daniels in particular, is one of those professional clubs that has been integral to the success of our work, and we’re extremely grateful that the club and players are helping us with the RFL- funded project. We value the fantastic opportunities that the club offers to our students. These real world experiences of sport science, and how it influences rugby performance, are fundamental to students’ learning experiences, and it also enhances their employability.”
Matt Daniels, Head of Strength and Conditioning at St Helens RFC, added: “Our partnership with Craig and the University of Chester is key to ensuring we are prepared in the best possible way for our Super League season. Their expertise is second to none and we use the data gathered from these sessions to enhance and inform our own training and preparation methods.”