3 Citations (Scopus)


Locomotor and collision actions that rugby players complete during match-play often lead to substantial fatigue, and in turn, delays in recovery. The methods used to quantify post-match fatigue and recovery can be categorised as subjective and objective, with match-related collision characteristics thought to have a primary role in modulating these recovery measures. The aim of this review was to (1) evaluate how post-match recovery has been quantified in the rugby football codes (i.e., rugby league, rugby union, and rugby sevens), (2) to explore the time-course of commonly used measures of fatigue post-match, and (3) to investigate the relationships between game-related collisions and fatigue metrics. The available evidence suggests that upper-, and lower-body neuromuscular performance are negatively affected, and biomarkers of muscular damage and inflammation increase in the hours and days following match-play, with the largest differences being at 12–36 h post-match. The magnitude of such responses varies within and between neuromuscular performance (Δ ≤ 36%, n = 13 studies) and tissue biomarker (Δ ≤ 585%, n = 18 studies) measures, but nevertheless appears strongly related to collision frequency and intensity. Likewise, the increase in perceived soreness in the hours and days post-match strongly correlate to collision characteristics across the rugby football codes. Within these findings, there are specific differences in positional groups and recovery trajectories between the codes which relate to athlete characteristics, and/or locomotor and collision characteristics. Finally, based on these findings, we offer a conceptual model of fatigue which details the multidimensional latent structure of the load to fatigue relationship contextualised to rugby. Research to date has been limited to univariate associations to explore relationships between collision characteristics and recovery, and multivariate methods are necessary and recommended to account for the latent structures of match-play external load and post-match fatigue constructs. Practitioners should be aware of the typical time windows of fatigue recovery and utilise both subjective and objective metrics to holistically quantify post-match recovery in rugby.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 19 Oct 2021


  • Fatigue
  • Rugby codes
  • Collision Characteristics
  • neuromuscular performance
  • Biochemical measures
  • Self-reported assessments
  • Rugby players
  • physical performance
  • Athlete monitoring
  • Sport science
  • Player welfare
  • Training Load
  • Recovery
  • Performance Metrics
  • Sports physiology


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