Acceleratory match-play demands of a Super Rugby team over a competitive season

Shaun M Owen, Rachel E Venter, Stephan du Toit, Wilbur J Kraak
Journal of Sports Sciences 2015, 33 (19): 2061-9
The match-play demands of rugby union have increased over time, and these demands should be quantified so as to provide a basis for optimal player loading during training. The primary aim of this article was to quantify accelerations, decelerations, impacts and aggregated body demands during the first half of match-play in a Super Rugby team. The secondary aim was to determine whether these characteristics are position-specific. Thirty-three players were monitored for 14 matches using global positioning system units with inbuilt microtechnology. Players were grouped according to positional roles and data were analysed for those who completed the entire duration of the first half of a given match. Forwards sustained more (d = 0.44) high-intensity impacts and greater (d = 0.26) aggregated body demands, while backs had more moderate (d = 0.55) and heavy accelerations (d = 0.76), and moderate (d = 0.23) and heavy decelerations (d = 0.54). These differences suggest that conditioning and recovery strategies should reflect the physical demands placed on players in different playing positions. Forwards should be conditioned with a focus on impacts and require longer recovery for the same duration of playing time, whereas conditioning for backs should emphasise rapid accelerations and decelerations.

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