Physical Demands of Elite Rugby Union Match-play Using Global Positioning System

Hayato Yamamoto, Masanori Takemura, Mitsuharu Kaya and Junzo Tsujita

[Received May 20, 2015; Accepted January 11, 2017] 

The purpose of this study was to investigate the physical demands of elite rugby union matchplay using a Global Positioning System(GPS), and to compare these demands among positional groups with the goal of creating more effective training plans. GPS data were collected from 14 Japan Rugby Top League 2013-2014 season competition games over a single season. Players were categorized into one of four positional groups, Prop/Hooker (Front row forwards; FR), Locks/Flanker/No.8 (2nd and 3rd row forwards; 2&3R), Scrum-half (SH), and Fly-half/Three-quarters/Full-back (Backs; BKs). Total distances covered during match-play by FR, 2&3R, SH, and BKs were 5604.0±252.40m, 5690.2±284.24m, 7001.0±245.79m, 6072.3±852.85m, respectively. Significant differences were observed between positional groups, and then SH covered significantly greater total distances than other positional groups did (SH>FR, BKs; p<0.05, SH>2&3R; p<0.01). Standing & Walking (0-6km/h) distances (ratio for the total distance; %) covered by FR, 2&3R, SH, and BKs were 2209m (39.7%), 2067m (36.5%), 2092m (29.9%), 2581m (43.1%), respectively. Jogging (6-12km/h) distances were 2207m (39.2%), 2028m (35.6%), 2031m (29.0%), 1742m (28.6%). Cruising & Striding (12-18km/h) distances were 967m (17.2%), 1288m (22.6%), 2024m (28.9%), and 1135m (18.6%). High-intensity running (18-20km/h) distances were 104m (1.9%), 163m (2.9%), 425m (6.1%), and 233m (3.8%). Sprinting (20km/h) distances were 117m (2.1%), 142m (2.5%), 430m (6.1%), and 381m (6.0%). Positional differences exist for running based variables. The present data can be used to adapt training to better prepare each position based on the physical demands of the game.

Keywords: GPS, Physical demands, Positional difference, Team sports

[Football Science Vol.14, 15-23, 2017]