Rugby Junkie by American Sin Bin

With all the hype surrounding the restyling and subsequent development of the new European Champions Cup, to replace the now defunct Heineken Cup, one question that could easily have been raised would have been the inclusion of American teams. It could just have easily as been dismissed but it is something that should certainly be discussed in future planning.

With the game in America continually expanding the potential media and commercial benefits are massive. With a population as large as it is, there is undoubtedly the talent in there to provide competitive teams. The USA has already talked about being a challenger for the World Cup in years to come, even as soon as 2023.

Any argument for inclusion however must take into consideration the ability to be competitive and to fit in to the already packed schedule and framework that is evident in current European rugby. Rabo Direct Pro 12 leaders have already spoken about distancing themselves from such expansion as they find themselves packed to the rafters with games already, with their current member teams and players finding themselves tied up for 44 weekends a year already – they have since declared that any inclusion of American games would simply be a one-off or exhibition spectacle.

Granted, the Premiership competition in England has already looked at this expansion themselves. They have even sent coaches over to the collegiate system that American sports use, no doubt looking to develop the talent that lies undiscovered in the vast, sports mad country of America. Teams such as London Irish have mooted the idea of playing in areas such as Boston or New York, looking to tap into the vast Irish market these cities already have. At the moment the idea is just to play one game a year abroad but this is at the risk of angering “home” fans who may not be too pleased at seeing their team abandon their usual home stadium.

If any lesson from the past was to be repeated then the idea with the inclusion of American teams would surely do well to follow the example set when Italy were included into first the 6 Nations on an International level and then when their club teams were included in the Celtic league program (formerly Magners League, now Rabo Direct Pro 12). Italy started with club teams then switched to the regional format that the other Celtic nations use. Since then, Italy has gone on to provide a much more sustained challenge internationally, beating teams including the likes of France in the 6 Nations, twice in recent years.

This inclusion saw them develop their best players by playing in a higher competition, against better opposition week in, week out. This can only bode well for the future. And the same could just as easily be true for the USA.

Perhaps the biggest excitement for rugby fans in America however is the discussions that have taken place regarding the expansion of the southern hemisphere’s Super 15 rugby competition. Bosses there have already toyed with the idea, claiming it would remiss to ignore such an opportunity to include the market opportunities that the USA can offer.

All in all it seems that inclusion for American based teams is only just around the corner, and the most likely destination for them is the Super 15 tournament – a move that bodes well for the international team as well as club development.

 Author: Shop Rugby are a specialist UK rugby retailer, selling a wide range of shirts and kit from leading rugby brands Under Armour, Canterbury and more. Browse the range at





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1.  Probiotics to keep you in the game and out of the doctor’s office.

Probiotics are the good microorganisms in our body that science has demonstrated can help fight of bad microorganisms that can make us sick.   In a study utilizing 30 elite rugby players the researchers demonstrated that probiotics can indeed keep you healthy and avoid missing matches due to illness.  When taking probiotics 16/30 got sick after the 4 week period compared to the 24/30 in the placebo group also the probiotic group had less days on average 3.4 compared to the 5.8 of the placebo.  There are many commercial products available to consume probiotics such as yogurt or a quick shot of Danactive or a similar product should do the trick.

 Haywood, Brylee A., et al. "Probiotic supplementation reduces the duration and incidence of infections but not severity in elite rugby union players." Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (2013)

 2. Caffeine and Carbohydrates keep you explosive on the pitch.

 Researchers utilizing a rugby union-specific protocol found that a combination of carbohydrates and caffeine caused faster 15 meter sprints, faster motor skills test, and lower rate of perceived exertion (RPE) than the placebo.  That means you can move faster, more accurately, and feel like you are working less than your opponent; talk about a tactical advantage.  To match the same formula used in the experiment consume 1.2 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of bodyweight along with 4 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight.  Consume the beverage about 1 hour before the match to allow the caffeine to kick-in.  For example: to create a similar beverage than the one in the study mix 7 tablespoons of Gatorade(or similar sports drink) powder in 16 ounces of water and with 1.5 Vivarins (200mg of caffeine per pill) would roughly meet the guidelines for a 180lb individual(82 kilograms).

 Roberts, Simon P., et al. "Effects of carbohydrate and caffeine ingestion on performance during a rugby union simulation protocol." Journal of sports sciences 28.8 (2010): 833-842.

3. Get cold to recover.

Tournament style play is not always won by the “best” team but rather the team that is best at recovering and can maintain a high level of play.  In order    to optimize recovery time of ruggers Italian researchers concluded 10 minutes of cold water immersion of the legs followed by 10 minutes of active        recovery (light cycling) can be effective at improving recovery based on blood markers.  However you do not need a fancy Italian research group to  implement this protocol for you team.  Just get some large trash cans and fill them with ice and water and if a stationary bike is out of the question have  the player walk leisurely for 10 minutes after coming out of the water.  This simple 20 minute drill after your match might mean your team is fresher and  more recovered than your opponents in the next match.

 Banfi, Giuseppe, Gianluca Melegati, and Pascal Valentini. "Effects of cold-water immersion of legs after training session on serum creatine kinase concentrations in rugby players." British journal of sports medicine 41.5 (2007): 339-339.

 Although simple, these three practices alone have to the potential to help you play faster, longer, and miss less days due to illness.  Not too shabby for free article that only took 5 minutes to read.  Just think of all the time and money you just saved.  Probably enough to invest in a sweet new American Sin Bin rugby shirt:

Go ahead; you earned it. 

Nick Barringer MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS

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