Maximum Running Intensities During English Academy Rugby Union Match-Play

Read, D. B.; Till, K.; Beasley, G.; Clarkson, M.; Heyworth, R.; Lee, J.; Weakley, J. J. S.; Phibbs, P. J.; Roe, G. A. B.; Darrall-Jones, J.; Jones, B.

This study aimed to quantify and compare the maximum running intensities during rugby union match-play using micro-technology devices (S5 Optimeye, Catapult) from 202 players during 24 matches (472 observations). Instantaneous speed was utilized to calculate relative distance (m·min^-1) using a 0.1 s rolling mean for different time durations (15 and 30 s and 1, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 10 min). The data were analyzed using a linear mixed-model and assessed with magnitude-based inferences and effect sizes (ES).

The results indicated that running intensity for consecutive durations decreased as time increased (ES = 0.48–2.80). Additionally, running intensity was consistently lower in forwards compared to backs across all durations (-0.74 ±0.21 to -1.19 ±0.21). Moreover, running intensity for the second row and back row positions was greater than for front row players at all durations (-0.58 ±0.38 to -1.18 ±0.29). Notably, running intensity for scrum halves was greater than inside and outside backs for all durations except 15 and 30 s (0.46 ±0.43 to 0.86 ±0.39).

These findings suggest marked differences in running intensity across various positions and sub-positional groups in rugby union. Front rowers and scrum halves exhibit distinct profiles compared to other positions, implying the need for specific conditioning tailored to these roles. Coaches, especially those working in academy rugby, can utilize this information to effectively design training programs that target the intensity of running, considering different time durations and player positions.

View this research