The Worst Case Scenario: Locomotor and Collision Demands of the Longest Periods of Gameplay in Professional Rugby Union

Reardon, C.; Tobin, D. P.; Tierney, P.; Delahunt, E.

This study aimed to compare the demands of the single longest period of ball-in-play, termed “worst case scenario” (WCS), between positional groups in rugby union. Previous studies have reported distinguishable game demands between positions, but little research has focused on the longest bouts of ball-in-play time.

The results showed that WCS periods follow a similar sporadic pattern as average demands but are played at a much higher pace, with an average meters per minute of 116.8 m. Positional differences in running and collision activity observed in average game demands were also evident in WCS periods.

Backs covered greater total distances, engaged in more high-speed running, and achieved higher maximum velocities compared to forwards. Among forwards, Tight Five and Back Row players experienced significantly more collisions than Inside Back and Outside Backs.

While GPS micro-technology currently does not allow for reporting of collision intensity or acceleration data, the combination of video analysis and GPS provides valuable information for practitioners. This information can be used to replicate and match game demands in training sessions, helping players prepare for high-intensity periods during matches.

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