My Basket

close search

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:

Read the journal

Related articles

April 24th, 2024Adelaide Crows x Hytro logos on background image of two players

Hytro Announced as Official Performance BFR Partner to Adelaide Crows as Part of Research into Improving Player Recovery

Hytro has officially partnered with the Adelaide Crows to collaborate on a research study using Blood Flow Restriction to maximise player recovery, with protocols to be adopted upon conclusion for future games within Aussie rules.

April 19th, 2024Hytro Performance Podcast logo with John Noonan

Episode 3: Enabling Exceptional F1 Drivers through Human-Centred Coaching with John Noonan

In Formula One racing having the fastest car or the most skilled driver is crucial to winning, but equally important is the team of dedicated professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that every aspect of performance is optimised. At the heart of this team is the performance coach. In the third Hytro Performance Podcast, we spoke to John Noonan to understand more about his role, and how he curates peak performance, guiding drivers through the mental, physical, and emotional challenges of one of the most demanding sports on the planet.

April 16th, 2024Athlete wearing Hytro BFR Performance Shorts and Training Tee whilst performing a stretch

What is Preparation BFR?

Blood Flow Restriction, a longstanding tool in athlete rehabilitation, has evolved into Performance BFR, offering a competitive edge in athletic performance. Performance BFR encompasses Preparation BFR, a technique now recognised for its role in enhancing pre-exercise warm-up routines due to its ability to maximise performance, reduce the risk of injury, and limit pain.