Match analysis and player characteristics in rugby sevens

Alex Ross, Nicholas Gill, John Cronin
Sports Medicine 2014, 44 (3): 357-67
Rugby sevens is a contact sport contested by two teams of seven players who compete over two 7-min halves, most frequently played in a tournament style. The IRB Sevens World Series is thought of as the preeminent rugby sevens competition in the world and has grown in competitiveness from its inception in 2000. The decision to include rugby sevens in the 2016 Olympics is likely to increase the global profile and participation in the game. Many rugby sevens players concurrently compete in 15-a-side rugby union as backs and loose forwards; however, a continued increase in the popularity of rugby sevens will likely see the emergence of the specialist rugby sevens player. Often thought of as the abbreviated version of rugby union, rugby sevens is played under nearly identical laws and on the same field dimensions as the 15-man code. However, research has shown the movement demands of rugby sevens and rugby union are dissimilar, with rugby sevens players spending a larger proportion of the game running at high intensity (≥ 5 m s(-1)). Given the dissimilarity in match demands in conjunction with differences in the competition structure between the codes, it appears the considerable depth of literature specific to performance in rugby union may be of little value for the preparation of rugby sevens players. Investigations of the physical characteristics of rugby sevens players show backs are lighter and shorter than forwards, while players across all positions possess a lean body composition. International rugby sevens players have similar speed characteristics to rugby union backs across distances of 10-30 m; however, rugby sevens players appear to have superior intermittent aerobic endurance. Despite being of likely importance, little is known of the strength and power characteristics of rugby sevens players. Research into the speed and aerobic endurance characteristics of rugby sevens players has not distinguished between backs and forwards and, as such, it is unclear whether differences exist between the position groups.

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