Some of rugby's top names gathered at UCLan for the UK's first Rugby League Research Symposium.
Jon Wilkin from St Helens RLFC and the Director of Performance and Coaching at the Rugby Football League, Jon Roberts, joined over 100 sport scientists, coaches, medical staff, educators and players from both codes of rugby in Preston for the event designed to see how far they can push performance levels.
Sports science experts shared research on talent identification in rugby league, how Global Positioning System (GPS) can identify the physical demands placed on a player, the recovery processes needed in the game and the nutrition essential for optimum performance.
England international Wilkin opened the conference and said: "There are so many complex components in rugby and we’re at a stage now where every aspect of play is analysed. For me it’s about tailoring sports science analysis to the individual to help them set specific goals and also educate players so they understand where they need to improve."
Fellow speaker Jon Roberts commented: "We're only weeks away from the Rugby League Word Cup with England taking on Australia in the first game. Sports science plays a massive part in the national set up from youth to the senior squad and aligning academic research with the profession is crucial if we are going to push boundaries, inform sports development and enhance performance."
The symposium, which attracted attendees from across the country, is part of a collaborative project between UCLan, the University of Chester, Liverpool John Moores University and Leeds Metropolitan University.
Dr Steve Atkins, an exercise science expert at UCLan and sport science advisor to Wigan Warriors RLFC, said: "This is the first time we’ve brought academic research and professional clubs together to use cutting edge sports science to optimise the performance of elite rugby players.
"It's allowed us to not only showcase what science can do for representatives from several Super League clubs, but we've also attracted people from Premiership rugby union clubs and professional football clubs to the event."
UCLan has a long and successful relationship with Rugby League and has an ongoing sponsorship deal with the Warriors. The deal sees the club benefit from fitness tests, video analysis support from UCLan and a number of University degree places for its squad players and staff.
The University's UCLan Sports Arena will host the Irish squad ahead of the RLWC2013 which will be held in England and Wales during October.