Return to Play in Elite Rugby Union: Application of Global Positioning System Technology in Return-to-Running Programs

Reid, L. C.; Cowman, J. R.; Green, B. S.; Coughlan, G. F.

Return-to-play (RTP) protocols are crucial in elite rugby union to ensure that players safely return to the field after injury. These protocols often incorporate data from Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to monitor the progress of injured players during return-to-running programs.

In elite rugby, GPS technology is commonly used to track player movements, such as distance covered, speed, acceleration, and deceleration, during both training sessions and matches. When players are injured, GPS data can be valuable in monitoring their rehabilitation progress and determining when they are ready to return to full training and competition.

Return-to-running programs typically involve a structured progression of running activities, starting from low-intensity jogging and gradually increasing in intensity and duration. GPS data can provide objective measures of a player’s running performance, helping sports medicine and coaching staff to assess the player’s readiness to return to play.

By analyzing GPS data collected during return-to-running programs, sports medicine professionals can ensure that players are gradually reintegrated into training and competition without risking re-injury. This data-driven approach helps optimize the RTP process and enhances player safety and performance in elite rugby union.

View this research