Applied sports science and sports medicine in women's rugby: systematic scoping review and Delphi study to establish future research priorities

Omar Heyward, Stacey Emmonds, Gregory Roe, Sean Scantlebury, Keith Stokes, Ben Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (SciVal)


Objectives In part 1, the objective was to undertake a systematic scoping review of applied sports science and sports medicine in women's rugby, and in part 2 to develop a consensus statement on future research priorities. Design In part 1, a systematic search of PubMed (MEDLINE), Scopus and SPORTDiscus (EBSCOhost) was undertaken from the earliest records to January 2021. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) 2020, the PRISMA extension for Scoping Reviews, and the PRISMA extension protocols were followed. In part 2, 31 international experts in women's rugby (ie, elite players, sports scientists, medical clinicians, sports administrators) participated in a three-round Delphi consensus method. These experts reviewed the findings from part 1 and subsequently provided a list of priority research topics in women's rugby. Research topics were grouped into expert-based themes and expert-based subthemes via content analysis. Expert-based themes and expert-based subthemes were ranked from very low to very high research priority on a 1-5 Likert scale. Consensus was defined by ≥70% agreement. The median research priority agreement and IQR were calculated for each expert-based theme and subtheme. Data sources PubMed (MEDLINE), Scopus and SPORTDiscus (EBSCOhost). Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Studies were eligible for inclusion if they investigated applied sports science or sports medicine in women's rugby. Results In part 1, the systematic scoping review identified 123 studies, which were categorised into six sports science and sports medicine evidence-based themes: injury (n=48), physical performance (n=32), match characteristics (n=26), fatigue and recovery (n=6), nutrition (n=6), and psychology (n=5). In part 2, the Delphi method resulted in three expert-based themes achieving consensus on future research priority in women's rugby: injury (5.0 (1.0)), female health (4.0 (1.0)) and physical performance (4.0 (1.0)). Summary/Conclusion This two-part systematic scoping review and Delphi consensus is the first study to summarise the applied sports science and sports medicine evidence base in women's rugby and establish future research priorities. The summary tables from part 1 provide valuable reference information for researchers and practitioners. The three expert-based themes that achieved consensus in part 2 (injury, female health and physical performance) provide clear direction and guidance on future research priorities in women's rugby. The findings of this two-part study facilitate efficient and coordinated use of scientific resources towards high-priority research themes relevant to a wide range of stakeholders in women's rugby.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001287
JournalBMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine
Issue number3
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2022


  • female
  • rugby
  • sport
  • sports medicine
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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