Peak Running Intensity of International Rugby: Implications for Training Prescription

Delaney, J. A.; Thornton, H. R.; Pryor, J. F.; Stewart, A. M.; Dascombe, B. J.; Duthie, G. M.

This study aimed to quantify the duration and position-specific peak running intensities of international rugby union players, with the goal of informing the prescription and monitoring of specific training methodologies. GPS technology was utilized to assess the activity profile of 67 elite-level rugby union players from two nations across 33 international matches. A moving average approach was employed to identify peak relative distance, average acceleration/deceleration, and average metabolic power for durations ranging from 1 to 10 minutes.

The results showed that peak running intensity increased as the duration of the moving average decreased. Across all moving average durations, outside backs, half-backs, and loose forwards exhibited likely small to moderate increases in relative distance and average acceleration/deceleration compared to the tight 5 group. Additionally, metabolic power demands were likely greater for outside backs and half-backs compared to the tight 5 group. Half-backs demonstrated the highest relative distance and metabolic power outputs, but their average acceleration/deceleration demands were similar to those of outside backs and loose forwards.

In conclusion, this study provided a framework to describe the peak running intensities achieved during international rugby competition by position. The findings revealed significantly higher peak activity profiles than previously reported whole-period averages. This information can be valuable for coaches and practitioners in adequately preparing athletes for the most demanding periods of play, allowing for the development of targeted training strategies tailored to specific positional demands.

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