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06 September 2011

Rugby for over 35's

When you are 36, you will still feel young and virile. However, very few professional rugby players are older than 35. Face it: your skills are not what it used to be.

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Very few rugby players representing their countries will be 35 years or older. There are very real and physiological reasons for this: their bodies and reactions are not what it used to be. They may have the ball sense, the experience and wisdom, the ability to analyse the game, to plan and think, but they have lost speed.

They are not as fast and nimble on their feet as they used to be, and their reaction time may be slower.

This applies to all people and to all sports. You will rarely find a national cricketer older than 35, or a Wimbledon tennis champion older than 35. Or a swimming champion, a 100 m sprinting champion, an ace hockey player, or a squash champion older than 35. The muscle power may still be there and even be greater and better than that of a 25-year old. The judgement may be better, but the legs won't move so fast anymore.

Rugby, more than in cricket, soccer, tennis or athletics, will claim its toll due to injuries. This contact sport is hard on the body.

Many rugby players had suffered more than one torn knee ligament and a serious shoulder injury by 28 - 30. Other common injuries include ankle injuries, broken ribs, neck and back injuries and concussion. An older player will need more time to heal from an injury than a younger player. This is where temptation creeps in to use anabolic steroids, the banned substance that can fast-track healing and training after an injury.

After retirement from rugby at or before age 35, many switch to another sport. Golf may be a good option and challenge for a competitive soul.

(Health24, August 2011)

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