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J Sports Sci. 2008 Jun;26(8):825-33. doi: 10.1080/02640410801942122.

The physical demands of elite English rugby union.

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Sport and Exercise Science Research Group, School for Health, University of Bath, Bath, UK.


The aim of this study was to assess the physical demands of elite English rugby union match-play. Player movements were captured by five distributed video cameras and then reconstructed on a two-dimensional plane representing the pitch. Movements based on speeds were categorized as standing, walking, jogging, and medium-intensity running (low-intensity activity), and high-intensity running, sprinting, and static exertion (scrummaging, rucking, mauling, and tackling) (high-intensity activity). Position groups were defined as forwards (tight and loose) and backs (inside and outside). Backs travelled more total distance than forwards (6127 m, s=724 vs. 5581 m, s=692; P<0.05) and greater distances in walking (2351 m, s=287 vs. 1928 m, s=2342; P<0.001) and high-intensity running (448 m, s=149 vs. 298 m, s=107; P<0.05). Forwards performed more high-intensity activity than backs (9:09 min:s, s=1:39 vs. 3:04 min:s, s=1:01; P<0.001), which was attributable to more time spent in static exertion (7:56 min:s, s=1:56 vs. 1:18 min:s, s=0:30; P<0.001), although backs spent more time in high-intensity running (0:52 min:s, s=0:19 vs. 1:19 min:s, s=0:26; P=0.004). Players travelled a greater distance in the first 10 min compared with 50-60 and 70-80 min, but there was no difference in the amount of high-intensity activity performed during consecutive 10-min periods during match-play. These results show the differing physical demands between forwards and backs with no evident deterioration in high-intensity activity performed during match-play.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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