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

Reid LC, Cowman JR, Green BS, Coughlan GF

Objective: To demonstrate the application of GPS technology in the management of return to play in elite-club Rugby Union.

Design: Case series.

Setting: Professional Rugby Union club team.

Participants: 8 elite Rugby Union players (age 27.86 ± 4.78 years, height 1.85 ± 0.08 meters, weight 99.14 ± 9.96 kilograms).

Intervention: Players wore GPS devices for the entire duration of a club game.

Main Outcome Measures: Variables of locomotion speed and distance were measured.

Results: Differences in physical demands between playing positions were observed for all variables.

Conclusions: An analysis of the position-specific physical demands measured by GPS provides key information regarding the level and volume of loads sustained by a player in a game environment. Using this information, sports-medicine practitioners can develop rehabilitation and return-to-running protocols specific to the player position to optimize safe return to play.

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