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Optimising Nutritional Intakes and Behaviours in Elite Female Rugby Union Players

Project Description

Full-time Sponsored Postgraduate Research Studentship - starting February 2020
Leeds Beckett University and Scottish Rugby Union are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to join the research team at the Carnegie School of Sport in providing nutrition support to the Scottish Rugby Union Female performance pathway.

An athlete’s dietary intake can impact their health and performance. Rugby union players are known to have high energy requirements (Smith et al., 2018) due to in part the collision nature of the sport (Costello et al., 2018a). Whilst practitioners attempt to optimise the nutritional strategies (Costello et al., 2018b) of athletes to maximise training adaptations, reduce the risk of injury and illness, and enhance competition performance, limited information is available on female rugby union players. Their current nutritional intakes, requirements and behaviours are yet to be investigated.

The successful candidate will undertake a programme of research to optimize nutritional intakes and behaviours of female rugby union players. The research should look to establish guidelines for female rugby union players, considering the enablers and barriers to nutritional adherence (Bentley et al., 2019). Alongside the research, the successful candidate will be embedded into Scottish Rugby’s international female pathway led by Head of Athletic Development, Andy Boyd and the other performance staff. The candidate will work directly with Scotland’s international female squad’s providing approximately 90 days per year of specialist nutritional support. This time allocation will be split across the three international squads; Senior Performance Squad, U20s and U18s development squads.

The Supervisory Team will be Professor Ben Jones and Professor Susan Backhouse

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals with the Project Leads who are Professor Ben Jones () and Andy Boyd ().

Funding Notes

The PhD studentship will have a bursary of £15,009 per annum (pro-rata into 12 monthly payments) plus UK/EU Fees paid initially for a period of three years.


Bentley MR, Mitchell N, Sutton L, Backhouse SH. (2019). Sports nutritionists' perspectives on enablers and barriers to nutritional adherence in high performance sport: A qualitative analysis informed by the COM-B model and theoretical domains framework. J Sports Sci. Sep;37(18):2075-2085. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2019.1620989.

Costello N, Deighton K, Preston T, Matu J, Rowe J, Sawczuk T, Halkier M, Read DB, Weaving D, Jones B. (2018a). Collision activity during training increases total energy expenditure measured via doubly labelled water. Eur J Appl Physiol. Jun;118(6):1169-1177. doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-3846-7.

Costello N, McKenna J, Sutton L, Deighton K, Jones B. (2018b). Using Contemporary Behavior Change Science to Design and Implement an Effective Nutritional Intervention Within Professional Rugby League. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. Sep 1;28(5):553-557. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2017-0298.

Smith DR, King RFGJ, Duckworth LC, Sutton L, Preston T, O'Hara JP, Jones B. (2018). Energy expenditure of rugby players during a 14-day in-season period, measured using doubly labelled water. Eur J Appl Physiol. Mar;118(3):647-656. doi: 10.1007/s00421-018-3804-4.

How good is research at Leeds Beckett University in Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 48.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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