Sports Medicine

, Volume 46, Issue 8, pp 1067–1081 | Cite as

A Review of the Anthropometric Characteristics, Grading and Dispensation of Junior and Youth Rugby Union Players in Australia

  • Declan Alexander PattonEmail author
  • Andrew Stuart McIntosh
  • Greg Denny
Review Article


The grading of Australian junior and youth rugby union players has received substantial media attention in recent years. Media reports have focussed on size mismatches observed between players, especially players with Polynesian heritage, and the concerned parents who fear for the safety of their child owing to perceived mismatches. Although such concerns are well meaning, few media reports recognise the need for substantial evidence to determine the best grading system for junior and youth rugby union players. The current study reviewed relevant literature pertinent to the grading and dispensation of junior and youth rugby union players. Using primary and secondary search strategies, a total of 33 articles reporting the anthropometric characteristics of junior and youth rugby players were identified. Anthropometric data from the literature were compared with normative population data and currently used dispensation criteria. Junior and youth rugby players were found to be taller and heavier than normative population data. Current dispensation criteria, in terms of body mass, were found to vary and it is suggested that criteria be revised and standardised across rugby unions throughout Australia. Although it is acknowledged that other factors are important for grading players, anthropometric characteristics should be considered as potential dispensation criteria to supplement current age-based grading for junior and youth rugby union players. Measuring the body mass and stature of each junior player upon pre-season registration is suggested, which would provide data to establish valid dispensation criteria for the following season.


Injury Rate Anthropometric Characteristic Rugby Player Rugby League Rugby Union 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention is one of the International Olympic Committee Research Centres for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health. The Australian Rugby Union is the governing body of rugby union in Australia and is a member of World Rugby.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


Declan Patton and Greg Denny were employees of the Australia Rugby Union at the time of writing of this review. No specific sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this article.

Conflict of interest

Declan Patton, Andrew McIntosh and Greg Denny declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Declan Alexander Patton
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Andrew Stuart McIntosh
    • 1
  • Greg Denny
    • 2
  1. 1.Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its PreventionFederation University AustraliaBallaratAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Rugby UnionSt LeonardsAustralia

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