Whatever England’s fate in this year’s thrilling Guinness Six Nations, one thing is for sure. Steve Borthwick’s men cross that white line in the best possible physical shape – thanks in no small part to sport science academics and students at LJMU.
The School of Sport and Exercise Sciences enjoys a long and productive relationship with England Rugby, anchored in the formidable figure of Professor Graeme Close (pictured above), among the most respected sports nutritionists in the game and a former professional rugby league player himself?
As their head of sport nutrition for almost a decade, Professor Close has helped fuel the team through nine Guinness Six Nations and is heading into his third World Cup having travelled to Japan with the team in 2019. He also sits on their research and innovation panel, looking at issues such as emerging technology within the game and the specific requirements of female rugby
Graeme is admirably supported by LJMU research students: Two former PhD researchers - James Morehen and Andy Kasper - support England Rugby Women’s team and the men's Under-20s and a former MSc Student (Sophie Hannon) has been working closely with the women’s set up and match officials. The team are now in the process of recruiting another PhD student to work alongside Professor Close with England Rugby.
This latest PhD will focus on the nutritional requirements for the female game ensuring that the nutrition support is always innovative, science driven and appropriate to the end user.
The RFU also offer placements to our MSc students with four currently supporting the RFU in various performance projects.
Mark Bitcon, the RFU’S head of athletic performance and innovation, said: “We are very pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Liverpool John Moores University, which is one of the world leading institutes for sport nutrition research and applied practice.
“Through LJMU, we access sport nutrition support, led by Professor Graeme Close, who heads up the sport nutrition to the senior men’s team and manages sport nutrition to the senior women’s, men’s and women’s academy programmes as well the match officials.”
In fact, LJMU’s influence reaches right across the pitch of England rugby with Masters students under Professor Close working to produce nutrition content for a bespoke England Rugby nutrition website aimed at educating the community game.
Professor Close said: “As a university we are privileged to have access to RFU’s world-class set up and delighted to be contributing the latest science and evidence to help the athletes achieve their goals, both on and off the pitch.”