Determining the general - and sports-related nutrition knowledge of male adolescent rugby union players attending a secondary, urban government boy's school in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal.
Walsh, Cartwright, Corish, Sugrue & Wood-Martin (2011) suggest that the need for sound nutritional knowledge regarding both general concepts that pertain to healthy eating habits as well as the dietary principles that should be met for optimal sports performance, is of vital importance. According to Strachan (2009), adolescent sportsrelated nutrition knowledge is an area of great concern and in need of investigation, especially amongst local adolescent rugby players. Rugby is a high contact sport and the popularity of rugby union-related matches has considerably increased on a global scale (Griffiths 2012; Walsh et al 2011; Quarrie, Alsop, Waller, Bird, Marshall & Chalmers 2001). Unfortunately, Webb & Beckford (2013) and Burkhart (2010) recognize that there is limited published research available where an investigation into the general- and sports-related nutrition knowledge of adolescent athletes was conducted. This study aims to determine the general- and sports-related nutrition knowledge of male adolescent rugby players attending a boys only secondary, urban government school in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. A cross-sectional study was conducted on adolescent rugby players (N= 110) at a local urban, government school in Pietermaritzburg (mean age =15.22 ± 1.430). The players were requested to complete a nutrition knowledge questionnaire developed initially by Whati (2005) for urban South African adolescents. For the purpose of this study the questionnaire was adjusted in accordance with the study objectives using peer-reviewed journals. The results showed that urban, government-level adolescent rugby players have an adequate general- and sports-related nutrition knowledge but lacked knowledge in the field of carbohydrates, understanding of what a well- balanced diet and healthy eating entails as well as the intake and role of protein. Parents and the media were selected as the two major sources of this information. More than half the participants admitted to using a nutritional supplement 3-4 times a week. There was no statistically significant trend in the improvement of knowledge from the under 14 to the open age groups, perhaps emphasizing the lack of sound nutrition education. Several statistically significant trends regarding nutrition practices, such as iii supplement use, were seen when comparing the open age group to the non-open age category; however the nutrition knowledge showed no statistically significant difference. The results of this study correlate to similar published studies regarding nutrition knowledge of adolescent athletes. Due to the lack of locally published research concerning the nutrition knowledge of adolescent rugby players this study forms a reference point to the importance of determining the nutrition knowledge of adolescent athletes in order to understand the need for nutrition knowledge education.