Relative Age Effects in Welsh Age Grade Rugby Union
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Relative age effect (RAE) refers to the immediate and long-term consequences of age difference within an age grouping. In sporting contexts, it has been widely shown that those born in the first quarter gain an advantage over those born in the last quarter of the year. Rugby Union has received scant attention in relation to RAE. The primary purpose of the present study was to examine the presence and prevalence of RAE in Welsh age grade Rugby Union. A further purpose was to consider how coaches’ selection processes have the potential to contribute to the manifestation of RAE. A sequential multi-method research typology was adopted to gain a richer, more contextualized understanding of RAE. Results revealed that RAE was evident in all age groups of Welsh junior club rugby from ‘Under 7-19 yrs’. Odds ratios showed that the magnitude of the RAE increases with the three levels of performance (district, regional and national) above the club game. Further, the process of selection had characteristics that increased the risk of RAE occurring, especially a propensity to use physical characteristics as the primary selection criteria when selecting for representative teams. Also, coaches’ overemphasis on game performance and winning appeared to determine that the older, potentially bigger, faster, stronger players are preferred over the younger less physically mature players.
International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
Lewis, J., Morgan, K. and Cooper, S. (2015) 'Relative age effects in Welsh age grade rugby union', International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching,10 (5), pp. 797-813.
This article was published in International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching on 10 December 2015 (online), available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1260/1747-95126.96.36.1997
- Sport Research Groups 
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