Relationship Between Physical Qualities and Minutes Played in International Women’s Rugby Sevens

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To investigate the physical qualities that differentiate playing minutes in international-level women’s rugby sevens players.

Methods:

Twenty-four national-level female rugby sevens players underwent measurements of anthropometry, acceleration, speed, lower- and upper-body strength, lower-body power, and aerobic fitness. Playing minutes in international competition were used to differentiate players into 2 groups, a high- or low-playing-minutes group. Playing minutes were related to team selection, which was determined by the coaching staff. Playing minutes were therefore used to differentiate performance levels.

Results:

Players in the high-playing-minutes group (≥70 min) were older (mean ± SD 24.3 ± 3.1 vs 21.2 ± 4.3 y, P = .05, effect size [ES] = 0.77 ± 0.66, 90% confidence limit) and had greater experience in a national-training-center environment (2.4 ± 0.8 vs 1.7 ± 0.9 y, P = .03, ES = 0.83 ± 0.65), faster 1600-m time (374.5 ± 20.4 vs 393.5 ± 29.8 s, P = .09, ES = –0.70 ± 0.68), and greater 1-repetition-maximum upper-body strength (bench press 68.4 ± 6.3 vs 62.2 ± 8.1 kg, P = .07, ES = 0.80 ± 0.70, and neutral-grip pull-up 84.0 ± 8.2 vs 79.1 ± 5.4 kg, P = .12, ES = 0.68 ± 0.72) than athletes who played fewer minutes. Age (rs = .59 ± ~.28), training experience (rs = .57 ± ~.29), bench press (r = .44 ± ~.36), and 1600-m time (r = –.43 ± ~.34) were significantly associated with playing minutes. Neutral-grip pull-up and bench press contributed significantly to a discriminant analysis. The average squared canonical correlation was .46. The discriminant analysis predicted 7 of 9 and 6 of 10 high- and low-playing-minutes athletes, respectively.

Conclusions:

Age, training experience, upper-body strength, and aerobic fitness differentiated athlete playing minutes in international women’s rugby sevens.

Goodale, Stellingwerff, and Tsai are with the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, Victoria, BC, Canada. Gabbett is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia. Sheppard is with the Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Tyler Goodale at tgoodale@csipacific.ca.