Acceleration-Based Running Intensities Of Professional Rugby League Match-Play

Delaney JA, Duthie GM, Thornton HR, Scott TJ, Gay D, Dascombe BJ

Rugby league involves frequent periods of high-intensity running including acceleration and deceleration efforts, often occurring at low speeds.

Purpose: To quantify the energetic cost of running and acceleration efforts during rugby league competition to aid in prescription and monitoring of training.

Methods: Global Positioning System (GPS) data were collected from 37 professional rugby league players across two seasons. Peak values for relative distance, average acceleration/deceleration, and metabolic power (Pmet) were calculated for ten different moving average durations (1-10 min), for each position. A mixed-effects model was used to assess the effect of position for each duration, and individual comparisons were made using a magnitude-based inference network.

Results: There were almost certainly large differences in relative distance and Pmet between the 10-min window and all moving averages <5 min in duration (ES = 1.21-1.88). Fullbacks, halves, and hookers covered greater relative distances than outside backs, edge forwards, and middle forwards for moving averages lasting between 2-10 min. Acceleration/deceleration demands were greatest in hookers and halves compared to fullbacks, middle forwards, and outside backs. Pmet was greatest in hookers, halves, and fullbacks compared to middle forwards and outside backs. Conclusions: Competition running intensities varied by both position and moving average duration. Hookers exhibited the greatest Pmet of all positions, due to high involvement in both attack and defence. Fullbacks also reached high Pmet, possibly due to a greater absolute volume of running. This study provides coaches with match data that can be used for the prescription and monitoring of specific training drills.

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