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How Catalans Dragons optimise physical attributes for elite rugby performance

Physical attributes decide rugby matches. If players’ physical attributes are below their normal levels, it may impact the team negatively. As Head of Performance at Super League side Catalans Dragons, it’s Matt Parr’s job to ensure all his players can perform to their maximum physical levels. We caught up with Matt to discuss his techniques and learn what he looks for in an elite player.

Sam Tomkins playing for Catalan Dragons

Matt Parr, Catalan Dragons Head of Performance sat down and discussed with the team how Hytro BFR has been integrated at the club.

“The ability to repeat high-intensity bouts of exercise is so important for elite rugby athletes,” he said. “To do that, players need strength and to the ability to exert that force with speed. Central and peripheral conditioning underpin this, allowing players to get into and win battles over an 80-minute match.”


Catalans Dragons incorporate Hytro BFR into their weekly sessions for a variety of reasons. The hypoxic environment that applying Blood Flow Restriction creates, along with the stress placed on capillary walls, enhances athletes’ ability to use oxygen efficiently during exercise, allowing them to go for longer and perform repeated bouts to a greater level.


Enhancing aerobic capacity is far from the only benefit Parr sees from using BFR, however. “Rugby players can often overlook mobility, injury mitigation programmes and active recovery in their training. Recovery is particularly important within elite rugby. During a game, athletes produce large amounts of high-intensity, multi-directional running and experience numerous collisions. This results in muscle damage and inflammation, which then decreases players’ ability to produce force and leads to greater muscle soreness and fatigue. For our players, recovery has to be a priority.”


“Rugby players can often overlook mobility, injury mitigation programmes and active recovery in their training.”


Based in France, Catalans Dragons can expect to cover thousands of miles throughout a season. Such demands can make recovery trickier. Parr, however, believes that thanks to Hytro BFR, travel does present some opportunity. “Being together on the bus or after being on a plane, we use passive BFR by getting players to wear Hytro BFR Recovery shorts to aid the recovery process.”


“Being together on the bus we use passive BFR by getting players to wear Hytro BFR Recovery shorts.”


Applying BFR – passively or actively – within 24 hours of exercise produces a strong physiological response, with the body flushing waste products from the muscles that have been working. “At Catalans Dragons, players routinely use Hytro BFR Recovery Shorts after a game. Previously, BFR was tough to implement because of the time and intricacies required. However, Hytro BFR has proven very easy to use – especially for large groups. It has removed a major roadblock by being simple and effective to use: whether that’s in a player’s home, a hotel room or the changing room.”


“It has removed a major roadblock by being simple and effective to use: whether that’s in a player’s home, a hotel room or the changing room.”


Given BFR’s unique ability to enhance recovery, and aerobic conditioning and minimise injury risk, growing numbers of elite athletes are seeking to introduce it to their programmes. For such athletes and their coaches, Parr has some simple advice: “read the supporting literature and understand the stimuli created by BFR. Understanding the mechanisms involved allows you to effectively integrate BFR.”


After an agonising defeat in the Super League playoffs, Matt Parr is hoping that the performance protocols implemented will allow Catalans Dragons to go one step further next season.


Read more about the science and learn how Hytro BFR produces performance benefits:

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