The Use of Accelerometers to Quantify Collisions and Running Demands of Rugby Union Match-Play

Roe, G.; Halkier, M.; Beggs, C.; Till, K.; Jones, B.

This study investigated the association between accelerometer metrics and both collisions and running demands during rugby union match-play among under-18 forwards and backs. The researchers recruited 12 under-18 forwards and 14 under-18 backs from a professional rugby union club and analyzed data from six competitive matches where players wore micro-technological units (Optimeye S5, Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia). Video footage was used to identify total collisions, while GPS data was utilized to measure total distance covered. The accelerometer metrics examined were Player LoadTM (PL), Player LoadTM 2D (PL2D), and Player LoadTM slow (PLslow). A total of 81 player observations were included in the final analysis.

Ordinary least squares regression was employed to analyze the data, and a 10-fold cross-validation analysis was conducted to validate the findings. The results revealed that all PL variables showed very large relationships with collisions in the forwards, with PLslow demonstrating the largest relationship (large) with collisions in the backs. Consequently, PLslow emerged as a potentially useful metric for measuring collision-based activity in both positional groups during match-play due to its strong relationship with collisions in both forwards and backs.

Furthermore, the study found nearly perfect and very large relationships between PL and total distance for forwards and backs, respectively. This suggests that PL can effectively quantify running demands, particularly in situations where other methods, such as GPS tracking, are unavailable, such as during indoor training sessions.

Overall, these findings provide valuable insights into the relationship between accelerometer metrics, collisions, and running demands in rugby union match-play among under-18 players, offering potential applications for monitoring and assessing player performance and workload during training and competition.

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