Effects of Travel on Professional Rugby Union Players

Lo, Michele (2018) Effects of Travel on Professional Rugby Union Players. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Super Rugby is an international competition played in the southern hemisphere with participating teams required to undertake multiple travel during a season. This thesis investigated the direct and complex relationship between regular air travel and athletes’ psycho-physiological response and performance. The first two studies investigated the impact of travel on team performance during the first 21 years of the competition (1996-2006). Study 1 showed the predominant role of the away-match disadvantage in determine match results following the longest flights and greatest time zones shifts, whilst the results from study 2 suggests that fatigue related to long-haul travel and the increased physical demand of the game negatively impacted team performance measured using Key Performance Indicators. Study 3 was a socio-physiological analysis of all travel related issues and solutions, as reported by travel managers from eight Super Rugby teams. The results show that psychological and emotional well-being may take primacy over physiological wellness as team culture and cohesion may be as important as biological interventions in controlling the negative effects of travel on players’ performance and well-being. Studies 4 and 5 monitored players from four teams and investigated their individual response to long-haul trans-meridian travel, with a focus on sleep (study 4), wellness and performance (study 5). The results suggest that, although the effects of travel on individual performance appear to be limited, long-haul travel had a substantially negative impact on players’ sleep and wellness. Further studies should investigate the potential impact of sleep disruptions and reduced wellness on players’ general health and well-being. The findings of this thesis should be of interest to all coaches and supporting staff in sports that require international travel to compete.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/37817
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 1701 Psychology
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Current > Division/Research > College of Sports and Exercise Science
Keywords travel; athletes; performance; rugby union players; super rugby; psychological wellness; sleep; jet lag; fatigue; well-being
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