Running-Intensity Fluctuations in Elite Rugby Sevens Performance

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Nicola Furlan
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Mark Waldron
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Kathleen Shorter
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Tim J. Gabbett
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John Mitchell
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Edward Fitzgerald
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Mark A. Osborne
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Adrian J. Gray
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Purpose:

To investigate temporal variation in running intensity across and within halves and evaluate the agreement between match-analysis indices used to identify fluctuations in running intensity in rugby sevens.

Methods:

Data from a 15-Hz global positioning system (GPS) were collected from 12 elite rugby sevens players during the IRB World Sevens Series (N = 21 full games). Kinematic (eg, relative distance [RD]) and energetic (eg, metabolic power [MP]) match-analysis indices were determined from velocity–time curves and used to investigate between-halves variations. Mean MP and RD were used to identify peak 2-minute periods of play. Adjacent 2-minute periods (prepeak and postpeak) were compared with peak periods to identify changes in intensity. MP and RD were expressed relative to maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) and speed at V̇O2max, respectively, and compared in their ability to describe the intensity of peak periods and their temporal occurrence.

Results:

Small to moderate reductions were present for kinematic (RD; 8.9%) and energetic (MP; 6%) indices between halves. Peak periods (RD = 130 m/min, MP =13 W/kg) were higher (P < .001) than the match average (RD = 94 m/min, MP = 9.5 W/kg) and the prepeak and postpeak periods (P < .001). RD underestimated the intensity of peak periods compared with MP (bias 16%, limits of agreement [LoA] ± 6%). Peak periods identified by RD and MP were temporally dissociated (bias 21 s, LoA ± 212 s).

Conclusions:

The findings suggest that running intensity varies between and within halves; however, the index used will influence both the magnitude and the temporal identification of peak periods.

Furlan, Waldron, Shorter, and Gray are with Exercise and Sport Science, University of New England, Armidale, Australia. Gabbett is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Australia. Mitchell and Fitzgerald are with Australian Rugby Union, Australia. Osborne is with the School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Nicola Furlan at nfurlan2@myune.edu.au.
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