Ecological Validity and Reliability of the Rugby Sevens Simulation Protocol

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

To assess the ecological validity of the Rugby Sevens Simulation Protocol (R7SP) and to evaluate its interday reliability.

Methods:

Ten male participants (20 ± 2 y, 74 ± 11 kg) completed 2 trials of the R7SP, separated by 7 d. The R7SP comprised typical running and collision activities, based on data recorded during international rugby sevens match play. Heart rate (HR) was monitored continuously during the R7SP, and the participants’ movements were recorded through a 20-Hz global positioning system unit. Blood lactate and rating of perceived exertion were collected before and immediately after the 1st and 2nd halves of the R7SP.

Results:

The average activity profile was 117 ± 5 m/min, of which 27 ± 2 m/min was covered at high speed, with a calculated energetic demand of 1037 ± 581 J/kg, of which ~40% was expended at a rate above 19 W/kg. Mean HR was 88% ± 4% of maximal HR. Participants spent ~45% ± 27% of time above 90% of maximal HR (t >90%HRmax). There were no significant differences between trials, except for lactate between the halves of the R7SP. The majority of the measured variables demonstrated a between-trials coefficient of variation (CV%) lower than 5%. Blood lactate measurements (14–20% CV) and t >90%HRmax (26% CV) were less reliable variables. In most cases, the calculated moderate worthwhile change was higher than the CV%.

Conclusions:

The R7SP replicates the activity profile and HR responses of rugby sevens match play. It is a reliable simulation protocol that can be used in a research environment to detect systematic worthwhile changes in selected performance variables.

The authors are with the Exercise and Sport Science Dept, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia.

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