Match-play demands of a Super Rugby team

Owen, Shaun Matthew (2019-12)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Rugby union is a physically challenging intermittent sport, whose multi-faceted nature provides players with a range of playing positions, each with various physical traits, roles and responsibilities. In addition, following professionalisation, the match-play demands of the game have continued to evolve. There is currently limited literature on the contemporary match-play demands of rugby union, particularly temporal patterns as a match progresses, and peak periods of play. This study aimed to provide an accurate in-depth investigation of position-specific locomotive and contact demands during match-play, which will provide a basis for optimal preparation for competition, thereby potentially improving performance and reducing injury risk. Thirty-four professional male rugby union players (20–32 years old) were assessed during match-play over two Super Rugby seasons (2014 and 2015). Players were grouped into Forwards (n = 83) and Backs (n = 124), as well as Tight Forwards (n = 33), Loose Forwards (n = 50), Inside Backs (n = 60), and Outside Backs (n = 64). GPS and video-based analysis provided locomotive (maximum speed, sprint count, total distance, walking distance, jogging distance, striding distance, and sprint distance) and contact (total contact involvements, rucks, tackles, carries, scrums, and mauls) match-play data that were described through three methods: Full Match Analysis, Temporal Pattern Analysis, and Peak Period Analysis. A mixed model repeated measures ANOVA was utilised to draw comparisons between positional groups. Full Match Analysis saw the majority of locomotive demands to be greater for Backs than Forwards, and the majority of contact demands to be greater for Forwards than Backs. Further differences were seen for positional subgroups. Within-group Temporal Pattern Analysis of Forwards and backs suggest that both exhibit a slow-positive locomotive pacing strategy throughout each half. A similar pattern was identified for Forwards when measuring contact demands in the first half, and a flat-line pacing strategy in the second. However, the backs displayed a sporadic pattern. For the most part, the positional subgroups reflected the findings of each of their respective positional groups, Forwards and Backs, with some variation observed between forward positional subgroups. Analysis of peak periods suggest that Backs have more intense peak locomotive demands, where Forwards have more intense peak contact demands. The Forwards’ and Backs’ positional subgroups mirror these findings. Equations derived from Power Law are provided to indicate training drill intensity targets as a function of time, which would best reflect peak periods of match-play. Various differences and similarities in locomotive and contact match-play demands exist between Forwards and Backs, and Tight Forwards, Loose Forwards, Inside Backs, and Outside Backs. Performance staff should physically prepare players in a way that reflects these position-specific demands, with conditioning and recovery protocols tailored accordingly. Future research should aim to include multiple teams and further divide the positional groups into individual positions. With developments in technology, an acceleration metric would provide better context to the distances covered.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Rugby is ‘n fisiek uitdagende sport met veelsydige vereistes wat spelers ‘n wye verskeidenheid posisies, rolle en verantwoordelikhede, elk met verskillende fisieke eienskappe, bied. Benewens die sport se fundamentele kompleksiteit, het professionalisering gelei tot verhoogde wedtrydsvereistes wat aanhoudend ontwikkel. Daar is tans beperkte literatuur beskikbaar aangaande die sport se huidige vereistes, veral met betrekking tot tyd-verwante spelpatrone vir 'n wedstryd soos dit vorder, asook teen piek spelperiodes. Hierdie studie het gepoog om ‘n akkurate omvattende ondersoek van posisie-spesifieke lokomotiewe- en kontakvereistes gedurende ‘n wedstryd te lewer. Hierdie resultate behoort die basis te vorm vir ‘n optimale seisoenvoorbereidingsprogram vir ‘n kompetisie, en kan sodoende spelers se atletiese werksverrigting verhoog en die beseringsrikiko verlaag. Vier-en-dertig professionele manlike rugbyspelers (20-32 jaar oud) was geassesseer tydens ‘n reeks wedstryde wat strek oor twee Super Rugby seisoene (2014 en 2015). Die spelers was gegroepeer in ‘voorspelers’ (n = 83) en ‘agterspelers’ (n = 124), asook subgroepe vir ‘vastevoorspelers’ (n = 33), ‘losvoorspelers’ (n = 50), ‘binne-agterspelers’ (n = 60) en ‘buite-agterspelers’ (n = 64). GPS en video data-ontleding verskaf lokomotiewe data (maksimum spoed, naelloop-telling, totale reisafstand, stapafstand, drafafstand en naelloopafstand) en kontakdata (totale kontak voorvalle, losskrums, speler duike, baldrae, skrums en losgemale) wat beskryf was deur drie metodes: ‘n Volle wedstryd ontleding, tyd-patroon ontleding en piek spelperiode ontleding. ‘n Gemengde-model herhaalde mate ANOVA was gebruik om die verskillende posisies te vergelyk. Volle wedstryd ontleding het getoon dat die ‘agterspeler’ groep se lokomotiewe vereistes hoër was as vir die ‘voorspeler’ groep, terwyl die kontak vereistes oor die algemeen hoër was vir Stellenbosch die ‘voorspelers’ as vir die ‘agterspelers’. ‘n Ondersoek onder die subgroepe het meer verskille openbaar. Intragroep tyd-patroon ontleding toon dat beide groepe ‘n lae, positief-toenemende pas strategie implementeer. ‘n Soortgelyke patroon was waargeneem onder die ‘voorspelers’ se kontakvereistes in die eerste helfte van ‘n wedstryd, wat dan afneem na ‘n neutrale, plat pas strategie in die tweede helfte. Die ‘agterspelers’ toon ‘n sporadiese patroon oor die hele wedstryd. Oor die algemeen stem die subgroepe se resultate ooreen met die oorhoofse groep, met klein afwykings onder die ‘voorspeler’ subgroepe. Piek spelperiode ontleding toon dat die ‘agterspelers’ meer intense lokomotiewevereistes het, terwyl die ‘voorspelers’ hoër kontakvereistes het. Die subgroepe bevestig hierdie resultaat. Vergelykings afgelei vanaf die kragwet word verskaf wat oefeningsintensiteit definieer as ‘n funksie. Hierdie funksie verteenwoordig ‘n goeie skatting van die piek spelperiodes van ‘n wedstryd. Daar is verskeie ooreenkomste en verskille tussen die ‘voorspeler’ en ‘agterspeler’ groepe, en die ‘vastevoorspelers’, ‘losvoorspelers’, ‘binne-agterspelers’ en ‘buite-agterspeles’ subgroepe, se lokomotiewe- en kontakvereistes tydens ‘n wedstryd. Fisieke voorbereiding deur prestasiepersoneel vir spelers behoort die unieke vereistes vir elke posisie te reflekteer, met die kondisionering- en herstelprotokolle aangepas soos nodig. Toekomstige navorsing moet poog om meervoudige rugbyspanne en meer posisie subgroepe in te span. Met tegnologiese ontwikkeling sal ‘n versnellingsmaatstaf meer konteks kan verskaf vir die afstande wat spelers dek.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107217
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