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Research & Investigations in Sports Medicine

Positional Demands of a Tier 2 International Rugby Union Team using GPS Metrics, Match Performance Indicators and Worst-Case Scenarios

  • Open or CloseWilliam H Bevan1, Huw R Bevan2, Dan J Cunningham3,4, James Harrison2, Joseph I Esformes1 and Jeremy Moody1*

    1Cardiff School of Health and Sports Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK

    2USA Rugby, 501 S Cherry Street, Suite 100, Glendale, USA

    3Applied Sport Technology Exercise and Medicine Research Centre (A-STEM), College of Engineering, Swansea University, UK

    4Welsh Institute of Performance Science, College of Engineering, Swansea University, UK

    *Corresponding author: Jeremy Moody, Cardiff School of Health and Sports Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Submission: May 17, 2021;Published: February 28, 2022

DOI: 10.31031/RISM.2022.07.000687

ISSN: 2577-1914
Volume8 Issue3


This study aimed to examine the peak, in-game positional demands of a tier-two international rugby team. Data from a Global Positioning System (GPS) and notational analysis from 43 individual players in 19 international games were analysed over two years. Players were categorized as forwards and backs and subsequently into positional groups: front row, second row, back row, half back, centre and back three. GPS variables included distance, total and high-speed running, maximum velocity, accelerations and decelerations greater than 4m•s-2, collisions and sprints. Match Performance Indicator data from notational analysis (MPI) variables included: Ball carries, passes, tackle attempts, ruck involvements, maul involvements and penalties. All dependent variables are expressed relative to playing time. Worst Case Scenario (WCS) data were evaluated using a bespoke analysis application that provided in-game WCS for maximum distance and high-speed running for every GPS file from 60 seconds up to 300 seconds. Significant differences were found between forwards and backs for all variables apart from accelerations, decelerations, sprints, and ball carries. This research confirmed that for this tier-two rugby team, backs cover the highest distance at any speed while forwards have higher involvements in collision-based activities. All positions covered substantially higher distances in the WCS analysis than the reported mean values. Back three had the highest maximum velocities and covered the most total and high-speed running distance of all positional groups across all WCS time epochs. Second rows had the highest number of collisions, maul and ruck involvements, the back row the highest number of tackle attempts and the centers the highest number of ball carries. Back three and half backs had the lowest involvements for these variables. The position-specific information outlined in this study provides practitioners with relevant information to inform the planning of position-specific training protocols and appropriately prepare players for the challenges of elite international rugby union.

Abbreviations: FR: Front Row; SR: Second Row; BR: Back Row; HB: Half Back; C: Centre; B3: Back Three; D: Distance per Minute; HSR: High Speed Running per Minute; MV: Maximum Velocity; AZ4, AZ5 AZ6, DZ4, DZ5, DZ6: Accelerations/Decelerations in Zones 4, 5 and 6; COL: Collisions; SP: Sprints; BC: Total Ball Carries; PASS: Passes; TA: Tackle Attempts; RUCK: Ruck Involvements; MAUL: Maul Involvements; PEN: Penalties; WCSD: Worst Case Scenario Distance; WCSHSR: Worst Case Scenario High-Speed Running

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