Demographics of veteran Rugby Union competitors

Mike Climstein, Joe Walsh, John Best, Kent Adams, Mark de Beliso, Stephen Burke, Jyrki Kettunen, Ian Heazlewood

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


    Introduction: Recent investigations into the heath of retired National Football League (NFL) players have identified increased cardiac risk factors/premature cardiovascular disease, cardiometabolic risk and type 2 diabetes. Surprisingly, there is no data available investigating the health of veteran rugby union players. The Golden Oldies World Rugby Festival (GORF) is held every two years for veteran rugby union players over the age of 35 years. Rugby union is one of the most popular team sports in Australia and New Zealand, with competitors similar in stature and physical abilities to NFL players. Therefore the purpose of this study was to investigate the medical and health demographics of competitors (aged 35+) of the 2010 GORF.

    Methodologies: A cross-sectional, observational study was completed using an on-line web-based questionnaire (LimeSurvey). The survey consisted of four sections. These results pertain to medical history (chronic diseases/disorders, prescribed medications) and physiological measures (Ht, Wt, waist, lipid profile, fasting plasma glucose) sections.

    Results: A total of 254 participants (35–78 yrs, X = 51.2 yrs) completed the survey. Data analysis was completed using independent (<50 yrs (n = 102) vs >50 yrs (n = 152)) and one sample (between populations) t-tests. Several measures such as body mass and cigarettes/wk differed significantly (all p < 0.05) between <50 yrs and >50 yrs. Results were: BMI (30.4 vs 29.6 kg/m2, NS), waist circumference (86.4 vs 92.3 cm, p < 0.05), SBP 122.2 vs 125.2 mmHg, NS) and DBP (78.6 vs 77.1 mmHg, NS). There were no significant differences between groups for cholesterol panel (total cholesterol (4.6 vs 5.0mmol/L), HDL-cholesterol (1.3 vs 1.5 mmol/L), LDL-cholesterol (2.1 vs 2.8 mmol/L), triglycerides (2.8 vs 2.4 mmol/L)) or blood glucose (5.5 vs 5.9 mmol/L). As a cohort, GORF competitors had the following incidence of chronic disorders (top 5): hypertension (15.3%), arthritis (OA/RA, 8.6%), asthma (8.6%), hypercholesterolemia (7.8%), diabetes (all types, 6.3%). When compared to the Australian general population (Australian Bureau of Statistics data, n = 15,779), GORF competitors had significantly higher incidence of anxiety (p < 0.01), depression (p < 0.01), diabetes (p < 0.05) and hypertension (p < 0.01). Collectively, GORF competitors were taking the following prescribed medications (top 5): anti-hypertensive (12.5%), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (6.3%), anti-diabetic (insulin or oral, 5.1%), anti-coagulant (4.3%) and bronchodilators (2.7%).

    Conclusions: This data represents the first collection of main outcomes of medical and health demographics in GORF competitors. GORF competitors presented with increased cardiovascular and metabolic risk, similar to that found in retired NFL linemen however, there was little difference between the two groups (<50 yrs vs >50 yrs). Preventative measures and further investigation in this cohort are warranted.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number164
    Pages (from-to)e80-e80
    Number of pages1
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue numberSupplement 1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


    Dive into the research topics of 'Demographics of veteran Rugby Union competitors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this