Fluctuations in Running and Skill-Related Performance in Elite Rugby Union Match-Play

Lacome M., Piscione J., Hager J.-P., Carling C.

This study investigated end-game and transient changes in running activities and whether these were concomitantly associated with reductions in skill-related performance in senior international rugby union match-play. Altogether, 18 official matches were analyzed (322 individual observations) using computerized video-based tracking and event coding (Amisco Pro®, SUP, Nice, France). In forwards and backs, trivial to small reductions (% difference: −2.1, ±1.3 to −10.0, ±4.0%) in total distance and that covered at high speeds (>18.0 km/h) occurred in the second versus the first half while there were trivial differences in skill-related performance measures (−2.3, ±4.5 to 7.5, ±14.0%). In both positions, small to moderate declines (−42, ±10 to −21, ±7%) occurred in high-speed running in the final 10-minute and 5-minute periods versus mean values for all other 10-minute and 5-minute periods throughout the game while only small changes (−18, ±51 to 13, ±41%) in skill-related performance were observed. Trivial changes in running and skill-related performance (−11, ±74 to 7, ±39%) were observed in the 5-minute period immediately following the most intense 5-minute periods of play compared to mean performance over the other 5-minute periods. These findings suggest that international rugby union players were generally able to maintain skill-related performance over the course of match-play even when declines in running performance occurred.

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