The influence of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on perceived nutrition & training habits in rugby union players

Charlie Roberts, Nicholas Gill, Stacy Sims

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction: The global spread of COVID-19 has led to governments and local authorities implementing nationwide
lockdowns to minimize the spread of the virus. In New Zealand, all non-essential businesses and services closed or restricted activities.

Methods: Two surveys were distributed among Rugby Union players to establish (1) the influence of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on Rugby Union players’ perceived nutrition and training habits and (2) how perceived nutrition and training habits in Rugby Union players’ changed following relaxation of lockdown restrictions.

Results: Of the 258 respondents who completed Survey 1 (84.1% male, 26.4% professional/semi-professional), 58% indicated living with family during lockdown. Total food intake was reported to be higher in 36% of respondents. Fruit and vegetable intake was lower (17%) and packaged/convenience food intake higher (26%) in a minority of respondents. In total, 106 respondents completed Survey 2 (84.9% male, 34.0% professional/semiprofessional). Of these, 72% prepared and 67% purchased their own food. Compared to during lockdown, motivation to train and exercise was greater in 58% of respondents following lockdown. Dieticians and nutritionists within clubs provided most nutrition information/knowledge to athletes however other unreliable sources were identified, such as social media and family members.

Discussion: Due to the unprecedented and unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, literature concerning lockdowns on athletes’ nutrition and training habits is scarce. With matches and group training sessions cancelled and gyms, eating establishments and workplaces closed, Rugby Union athletes’ experienced significant disruption and changes to their daily lives.

Take home message: The on-going pandemic has presented significant challenges for athletes concerning perceived nutrition and training habits. Coaches and performance staff should ensure athletes’ receive appropriate and reliable nutritional and training support whilst being aware of the unique demands the individuals’ may face.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2020


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