The perceived demands of Rugby Sevens held by professional players and coaching staff

Kruyt, Ninette (2017-12)

Thesis (MScSportSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT : There appears to be a lack of psychological support in rugby sevens, including the absence of psychological skills development programmes and research on this topic. This study aimed to address the glaring gap in this field by laying a foundation for the development of an effective programme to equip players with psychological skills to enhance their performance and psychological well-being. The potential outcome will be advantageous both for individual players and the sport as a whole. The thesis set out to explore the subjective views of professional players and coaching staff regarding the demands of rugby sevens. A thorough analysis of the physical, technical and tactical, logistical and psychological demands, as well as the specific needs of the players was deemed necessary. According to Taylor (1995) it is essential to establish these demands in order to develop a psychological skills development programme for a specific sport or athlete. The primary aim of this study was, therefore, to analyse the perceived demands of rugby sevens held by professional players and coaching staff. Twenty-five participants (20 rugby sevens players and five coaching staff members) took part in the study. The 20 players consisted of three sub-groups: SA academy players (n=3), Blitzboks (n=8) and Olympians (n=9). Information was mainly elicited through semi-structured interviews. The coaching staff members were asked 21 open-ended questions while the players were asked 25 open-ended questions. The data was analysed through a thematic content analysis. This analysis revealed numerous challenges with regards to the physical, technical and tactical and logistical demands of rugby sevens. Due to the setup of the tournaments and matches, the demands of rugby sevens are different to that of other rugby formats. Therefore, a different approach needs to be taken when preparing players for tournaments. Being exposed to such a demanding sport also places considerable psychological demands on the players. A strong team culture was reported as one of the South African sevens team’s strengths and seemingly played a fundamental part in the team’s success. However, there seems to be an insufficient focus on the psychological side of the sport. The need to start with psychological skills development at a younger age was voiced, but this would require a framework to guide the process. Throughout a professional career, player well-being should also be prioritised. This includes assistance both on and off the field, and should continue beyond the player’s transition into retirement. Rugby sevens was included in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and interest in the sport has subsequently grown globally. Although the South African sevens team expressed that it was a special experience to win Olympic bronze, the perception was that South Africa does not have an Olympic culture yet and, therefore, there is plenty to learn from other countries in that regard. Using the newly acquired knowledge regarding the demands of rugby sevens, a psychological skills development and well-being programme could be developed and implemented. This should positively contribute to the performance of a rugby sevens team and give them the edge every team strives towards.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Daar blyk ’n leemte te wees aan sielkundige ondersteuning in sewesrugby, asook ʼn gebrek aan sielkundige vaardigheids-ontwikkelingsprogramme en navorsing op die tema. Hierdie studie poog om die leemte aan te spreek en sodoende die basis te lê vir die ontwikkeling en implementering van ’n effektiewe program om spelers met die nodige sielkundige vaardighede toe te rus ten einde hul prestasie en hul sielkundige welstand te verbeter. Die moontlike uitkoms van sodanige program sal voordelig wees vir beide die individuele spelers asook die sport in geheel. Hierdie tesis was daarop gemik om die subjektiewe opinies van professionele spelers en afrigtingspersoneel in te win aangaande die eise wat sewesrugby stel. ’n Deeglike analise van die fisieke, tegniese, logistieke en sielkundige eise, sowel as die spesifieke spelersbehoeftes was noodsaaklik geag. Volgens Taylor (1995) is dit noodsaaklik om hierdie eise te bepaal ten einde ’n sielkundige vaardigheidsontwikkelingprogram vir ’n spesifieke sportsoort of atleet te ontwikkel. Die primêre doel van die studie was derhalwe om die persepsies van professionele spelers en afrigters aangaande die eise van sewesrugby, te analiseer. Vyf-en-twintig deelnemers (vyf afrigtingspersoneellede en 20 sewesrugbyspelers) het aan die studie deelgeneem. Die 20 spelers het bestaan uit drie sub-groepe: SA akademie spelers (n=3), Blitzbokke (n=8) en Olimpiese deelnemers (n=9). Inligting is hoofsaaklik ingesamel deur semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude. Die afrigtingspersoneel is 21 oop vrae gevra, terwyl 25 oop vrae aan die spelers gestel is. Die data is deur tematiese inhoud-analise geanaliseer. Hierdie analise het vele uitdagings in verband met die fisiese, tegniese en logistieke eise van sewesrugby geïdentifiseer. Die eise van sewesrugby verskil van die ander rugby formate, weens die formaat van toernooie en wedstryde. ʼn Ander aanslag word dus benodig wat hierdie eise in ag neem wanneer spelers voorberei word vir kompetisies. Blootstelling aan so ’n veeleisende sport stel ook hoë sielkundige eise aan die spelers. Die sterk spankultuur was gemeld as een van die sterkpunte van die SuidAfrikaanse span en het ʼn belangrike rol gespeel in die sukses van die span. Daar word egter nie genoeg fokus geplaas op die sielkundige deel van die sport nie. Die behoefte aan sielkundige vaardigheidsontwikkeling op ’n jong ouderdom was geopper, maar dit vereis ʼn raamwerk wat hierdie proses sal begelei. Spelerwelstand moet regdeur ’n professionele loopbaan geprioritiseer word. Dit sluit hulp in, nie net op die veld nie, maar ook van die veld af, selfs tot na ’n speler se uittrede uit die sport. Sewesrugby is ingesluit in die 2016 Olimpiese Spele. Dit het daartoe gelei dat belangstelling in die sport wêreldwyd gegroei het. Alhoewel die Suid-Afrikaanse sewesspan aangedui het dat dit ʼn spesiale ervaring was om ʼn Olimpiese bronsmedalje te wen, bestaan die persepsie dat Suid-Afrika nie werklik ’n Olimpiese kultuur het nie. Derhalwe is daar baie om te leer van ander lande in hierdie opsig. Met die nuut verworwe kennis oor die eise van sewesrugby kan ’n sielkundige vaardigheids-ontwikkelingsprogram ontwikkel en geïmplementeer word. Dit behoort positief by te dra tot die prestasie van ’n sewesrugbyspan en aan hulle die x-faktor gee waarna alle spanne streef.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102847
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