Psychoendocrine and physical performance responses in male Tunisian rugby players during an international competitive season

Aggress Behav. 2008 Nov-Dec;34(6):623-32. doi: 10.1002/ab.20276.


The aim was to investigate a follow-up study based on hormonal, physical, and psychological parameters among rugby players who trained during a whole season interspersed with competitions on an international level. Fitness or reciprocally tiredness as well as competitive anxiety were evaluated, respectively, using the French Society for Sports Medicine (SFMS) and the sport competition anxiety test (SCAT) questionnaires. In this study, SFMS and SCAT scores increased respectively over the competitive season. The SFMS score revealed a state of relative tiredness at the end of the season, highlighted by a slight decrement in physical performances. The SCAT score changes are related to the competition context and therefore increased accordingly to the importance of the competition stake. We analyzed the corticotrope and the gonadotrope axis before (T(1)), and at the end of the national and international rugby season (T(2)). Training did not affect the resting salivary cortisol (Csal) levels, but induced a decrease in resting testosterone (Tsal) values, resulting in a dropped T/C ratio. Competition, in both periods (T(1)-T(2)), provoked a significant increase in Csal levels, but the Tsal responses depended on the match stake. Their concentrations increased when the competition generated an important stress and decreased when the psychological conditions remained relatively stable. SFMS is preferentially correlated with resting Csal levels and T/C values measured at 08:00 hr but not with Tsal. SCAT is highly correlated with competitive Csal and Tsal concentrations measured before and after the matches.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Anxiety / metabolism*
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Athletic Performance / psychology*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Competitive Behavior / physiology*
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Testosterone
  • Hydrocortisone