Establishing Duration Specific Running Intensities From Match-Play Analysis In Rugby League

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

Rugby league coaches often prescribe training to replicate the demands of competition. The intensities of running drills are often monitored in comparison to absolute match-play measures. Such measures may not be sensitive enough to detect fluctuations in intensity across a match or to differentiate between positions.

Purpose: To determine the position- and duration-specific running intensities of rugby league competition, using a moving average method, for the prescription and monitoring of training.

Methods: 15 Hz Global Positioning System (GPS) data were collected from 32 professional rugby league players across a season. The velocity-time curve was analysed using a rolling average method, where maximum values were calculated for ten different durations: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 minutes for each player across each match.

Results: There were large differences between the 1 and 2-minute rolling average and all other rolling average durations. Smaller differences were observed for rolling averages of a greater duration. Fullbacks maintained a greater velocity compared to outside backs, middle, and edge forwards over the 1 and 2-minute rolling averages (ES: 0.8-1.2, p < 0.05). For rolling averages of 3 minutes and greater, the running demands of the fullback were greater compared to middle forwards and outside backs (ES: 1.1-1.4, p < 0.05). Conclusions: These findings suggest that the running demands of rugby league fluctuate vastly across a match. Fullbacks were the only position to exhibit a greater running intensity than any other position, and therefore training prescription should reflect this.

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