To investigate activity profiles of Australian rugby league players during match play by competition, position, and match outcome in the New South Wales (NSW) second-tier competitions.
Eighteen NSW Cup (NSWC) and 22 National Youth Competition (NYC) players, participating in this prospective cohort study, were categorized into 3 positional groups: forwards, adjustables, and outside backs. Global positioning system devices were used to examine activity profiles (distance and relative distance covered in walking, jogging, moderate, high, very high, and sprinting speed zones and quantification of high-speed movement) during match play in 21 NSWC and 22 NYC matches (N = 339 files).
NSWC players performed more sprints (36.5 ± 9.3 vs 28.4 ± 9.2) and greater relative distance in moderate speed zones (18.4 ± 3.2 vs 15.8 ± 3.1 m/min) than NYC. NSWC outside backs covered greater relative distance in jogging (29.4 ± 2.9 vs 24.8 ± 2.7 m/min) and moderate speed zones (17.0 ± 2.6 vs 12.8 ± 2.8 m/min) than their NYC counterparts. Adjustables performed more sprints (39.4 ± 10.1 vs 27.0 ± 9.2), high-intensity accelerations (3.7 ± 1.4 vs 1.9 ± 1.4), and relative distance (84.8 ± 4.3 vs 88.6 ± 4.8 m/min) than forwards and greater relative distance (81.5 ± 3.8 m/min) and sprints (31.0 ± 8.0) than outside backs. Adjustables recorded greater relative distance (19.8 m/min) in moderate speed zones than forwards (16.7 ± 3.1 m/min) and outside backs (14.9 ± 2.7 m/min). Adjustables covered ~685 m more than outside backs during a win.
This is the first study to document the activity profiles of the NSW second-tier rugby league competition. The findings underscore the elevated match demands of adjustables and indicate higher intensity of play in NSWC than NYC that may more closely resemble the demands of National Rugby League match play.
The authors are with the Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.