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Rugby players win battle of the fittest

— 22 September 2010

Rugby League players have proven themselves to be fitter than both footballers and cricketers, following a challenge devised by leading European sports nutrition company Multipower to uncover which sportsmen are the fittest. The cricketers were not put to shame though!

Players from Castleford Tigers, Sheffield United and Yorkshire County Cricket went head to head at the Sheffield United Training Academy in a series of fitness tests, selected by leading Strength & Conditioning Coach, Dean Riddle. The afternoon of testing assessed the players’ agility, endurance, power, speed and strength.

Club representatives from winning team Castleford Tigers were Joe Arundel, Kirk Dixon and Adam Milner. Striker Daniel Bogdanovic and promising young players James Kingsley and Matthew Lowton represented Sheffield United and Jonny Bairstow, James Lee and Richard Pyrah from Yorkshire CCC.

Despite Castleford Tigers winning the overall team competition, it was Daniel Bogdanovic, from Sheffield United and Jonny Bairstow from Yorkshire County Cricket Club who took joint honours in the individual competition, with Kirk Dixon from Castleford narrowly missing out on the title by just one point.

The day began with a focus on power and strength. Two of the opening challenges tested the lower body, with a 3 rep bench press and squats. Predictably, it was a Rugby League player Adam Milner came out on top for both.

The vertical jump challenge, a test of upper body strength, was won by Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire CCC) and the wide-grip pull-up was a clear victory for Joe Arundel (Castleford Tigers) who completed an impressive 17.

The sportsmen were then tested on agility, speed and endurance, starting with an arrowhead agility course, which required quick bursts of acceleration and direction changes, followed by straight 20metre sprints. Surprisingly, it was Kirk Dixon from Castleford Tigers who came out on top for agility, with Jonny Bairstow quickest across the 20metre sprint, moving to the top of the individual leaderboard with his second victory of the day.

The final challenge was an intense test of endurance, with an intermittent shuttle run. Similar to a bleep test, the players had to steadily raise their speed levels as they worked between two targets. This time the footballers proved to have the highest levels of endurance, with all three Sheffield United representatives taking victory, bringing Bogdanovic, a consistent performer throughout the day, level on top points with cricketer Jonny Bairstow.

With each team allocated a maximum of 33 points for each of the 7 activities (11 points per athlete), it was Castleford Tigers who were crowned the fittest sportsmen with a combined score of 162 points, Yorkshire Cricket finished second with 145 points, closely followed by Sheffield United with 144.

Kirk Dixon from winning team Castleford Tigers, commented, “The lads and I are really pleased to come out on top and prove that Rugby League players are the fittest sportsmen. Although the day was a lot of good fun, I think we all really wanted to beat each other, so it was nice to win overall and I think we surprised people with how we performed in the speed and agility tests.”

Strength and Conditioning coach, Dean Riddle, added, “There are so many different facets of physical fitness, and Rugby players not only require power and strength, but speed is also crucial, so I expected Castleford Tigers to come out on top overall. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if rugby players were the best conditioned athletes across all sports.”

Multipower UK Marketing Manager Steve Kessell said, “Multipower sportsfood works closely with Strength & Conditioning coaches across all top-level sports for feedback on the current product range and invaluable insight into the ongoing nutrition needs of modern athletes for the development of new products. It has been really interesting to bring a selection of our sporting ambassadors together today, and see how they compare across a variety of fitness challenges.”

Joint individual winner Jonny Bairstow commented, “Today was hard work but good fun! After a long season I was thrilled to prove that I was one of the fittest here. I’m always telling the lads that the wicket keeper works the hardest – now they know”.

Fellow winner, Sheffield FC striker Daniel Bogdanovic added, “I didn’t expect the cricketers to do so well, they all really impressed me, particularly Jonny. It was great to come together and meet a group of different sportsmen, and really learn from each other.”

Castleford Tigers, Sheffield United and Yorkshire CCC use Multipower sports nutrition products as a key training partner to help prepare for, compete and recover from competition, for further information please visit


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