Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Sports Medicine




6991769 (1-12)


We sought to conduct a bibliometric analysis and review of the most cited publications relating to rugby since 2000 in order to identify topics of interest and those that warrant further investigations. Clarivate Web of Science database was used to perform a literature search using the search term "rugby." The top 200 papers by citation count were extracted and reviewed for the inclusion criteria: all subjects were rugby players. The top 50 manuscripts were included for analysis of author, publication year, country of lead authors, institution, journal name and impact factor, topic, participant sex, and level of rugby. The total number of citations was 9,071 (average of 181.4 citations/article), with an average journal impact factor of 7.21; the top article was cited 407 times at the time of analysis. The most frequent publication was the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (26%), followed by the British Journal of Sports Medicine (20%) and the Journal of Sports Sciences (18%). Forty-eight (96%) of the manuscripts contained only male subjects, with 1 manuscript including females only and 1 manuscript containing mixed sexes. Thirty-three (66%) of the manuscripts focused on professional rugby players, with the next highest player group being mixed levels (10%). Twenty-eight (56%) concentrated on topics regarding strength and conditioning, 11 (22%) on injury, and 4 (8%) on physiology. Despite rugby being one of the most injurious sports and community players representing the largest component of the player pool, most of the top-cited rugby articles are cohort studies of professional male athletes focused on performance and strength and conditioning, noting the bias in research towards socially relevant topics that may not impact the majority of stakeholders and long-term health of rugby athletes. These findings highlight the need for further research among women and community athletes and on topics in injury prevention.


Copyright © 2023 Katherine J. Hunzinger and Eric Schussler.

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Data Availability

Article states: "All data pertaining to this study are open access. A concise file of the included studies can be obtained by e-mailing the authors directly."


0000-0002-0101-0986 (Schussler)

Original Publication Citation

Hunzinger, K. J., & Schussler, E. (2023). The 50 most cited papers on rugby since 2000 reveal a focus primarily on strength and conditioning in elite male players. Journal of Sports Medicine, 2023, 1-12, Article 6991769.