Although thousands of supplements are available, there are only a few that offer either practical or physiological benefits to rugby players. The challenge is to identify the product(s) that may offer these advantages, as there is often a big gap between the suggested claims and product features compared to the proven benefits, dosages and applications.
Another challenge is to understand players’ specific needs and their individual responses, as this varies from player to player. There are also a number of other very important considerations to bear in mind when contemplating supplements, such as legality, quality, safety and purity.
In practice, this means there is only limited control over the production, labelling, importation, distribution, and marketing of supplements and there is also no system to ensure products are safe and effective before they are sold. There have been numerous cases of supplements either being incorrectly labelled, or containing negligible amounts of declared ingredients. Some supplements may even contain undeclared ingredients with potentially harmful side-effects.
There have also been several cases of athletes testing positive after having used supplements and, unfortunately, this has undermined the image of the industry as a whole.