To examine differences in physical and technical performance profiles using a large sample of match observations drawn from successful and less-successful professional rugby league teams.
Match activity profiles were collected using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology from 29 players from a successful rugby league team during 24 games and 25 players from a less-successful team during 18 games throughout 2 separate competition seasons. Technical performance data were obtained from a commercial statistics provider. A progressive magnitude-based statistical approach was used to compare differences in physical and technical performance variables between the reference teams.
There were no clear differences in playing time, absolute and relative total distances, or low-speed running distances between successful and less-successful teams. The successful team possibly to very likely had lower higher-speed running demands and likely had fewer physical collisions than the less-successful team, although they likely to most likely demonstrated more accelerations and decelerations and likely had higher average metabolic power. The successful team very likely gained more territory in attack, very likely had more possessions, and likely committed fewer errors. In contrast, the less-successful team was likely required to attempt more tackles, most likely missed more tackles, and very likely had a lower effective tackle percentage.
In the current study, successful match performance was not contingent on higher match running outputs or more physical collisions; rather, proficiency in technical performance components better differentiated successful and less-successful teams.
Kempton and Coutts are with the Sport & Exercise Discipline Group, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Sirotic is with Sports Med, Brisbane, Australia.