Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Exercise and Sport Science

First Advisor

Michael T. Lane

Second Advisor

Heather R. Adams-Blair

Third Advisor

Matthew J. Sabin


Introduction: Caffeine is a commonly used supplement, incorporated among athletes for enhancing sports specific performance via physiological and cognitive responses. Rugby is practiced worldwide, played by men and women, requiring varying physical and skill components. Although the effects of caffeine on sports performance have been heavily researched and scrutinized, a suitable time frame for caffeine ingestion prior to activity to elicit an ergogenic effect remains unclear.

Methods: Athletes from a women and men's university club rugby squad were recruited for this study (n=22). Athletes were measured for height, weight, body composition, and resting blood pressure. Body composition was measured utilizing air displacement (Cosmed, USA). Athletes each completed five trials (one familiarization) followed by four trials (two trials caffeine (3mg*kg-1 BM) or placebo 30 minutes prior to activity and two trials caffeine or placebo 60 minutes before activity). Trials involved an eight-station circuit that was completed for ten consecutive rounds. Measurements for speed, pushup repetitions, passing accuracy, and medicine ball throws were recorded. Data was normalized for placebo trials at 30 minutes pre exercise with comparisons between trial mean values measuring percent change for statistical significance.

Results: Data was analyzed using ANOVA with alpha set at 0.05. Placebo trials at 30 minutes were normalized and comparisons were made between caffeine ingestion 30 and 60 minutes pre exercise. Passing accuracy attempts (1.2289 ± 0.34) and rugby specific sprint performances (.9300 ± 0.04) were enhanced with caffeine ingestion 60 minutes pre exercise. Rugby specific sprint performances (.9559 ± 0.06) were enhanced with caffeine ingestion 30 minutes pre exercise.

Conclusion: Modest amounts of caffeine, ingested 30 and 60 minutes pre simulated rugby activity, will elicit an ergogenic effect on skill-based performances. Typically, double the dosage of caffeine (6mg*kg-1) is ingested for such studies. 3mg*kg-1 was administered for this study, with most of the results trending but not definitive. More research should be conducted with alterations in timing and dosage to narrow the time for ingestion and determine suitable dosage.