Some players will drink to latest booze study

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 14/06/2014

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All Black partiers such as Zac Guildford might feel some vindication from a new study showing heavy drinking does not always affect performance on the field.

The former wing was spotted drinking in a Wellington bar with injured team-mate Israel Dagg in the middle of the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

He is by no means the first rugby player whose drinking has either landed him in trouble or been blamed for a poor performance.

Now, however, a Massey University masters student has concluded that heavy drinking - in some cases more than 11 pints - does little to impair a player's sporting ability the next day.

Christopher Prentice, a rugby player, tested 30 players from two club rugby teams for their jumping and sprinting abilities and lower body strength before and after a heavy night out.

Some drank more than 11 pints, others drank between six and 11 pints, and others fewer than six pints. On average, they had three hours' sleep.

"You could tell by the looks of them some had come straight there," Prentice said. "They were still wearing what they had on the night before."

The only physical ability affected the next morning was a slight decrease in the height the athletes could jump - good news for all players except those lineout jumpers.

The players' sprinting and lower body strength were all unchanged from what they achieved before the hard night. Their hydration levels were also unaffected.

"Although the results were generally the same, the people who had been up all night drinking did not look good," Prentice said. "We had some people throwing up during the sprints and lying down between tests."

All had fully recovered 24 hours after the first tests.

Despite the results, Prentice said he still recommended rugby players took it easy with the boozing, particularly for their long-term health.

"The next morning, you're not as likely to do the appropriate recovery or eat as well - active recovery, that kind of thing."

Matthew Barnes, Massey University sports scientist and paper co-author, said previous research suggested alcohol had some, but not a huge, effect on sporting performance.

"In the hangover state, most research shows physical ability isn't really impaired, it's more a cognitive thing."

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- The Dominion Post

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