Effects of Physical, Technical, and Tactical Factors on Final Ladder Position in Semiprofessional Rugby League

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance

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Tim J. Gabbett
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A limitation of most rugby league time–motion studies is that researchers have examined the demands of single teams, with no investigations of all teams in an entire competition. This study investigated the activity profiles and technical and tactical performances of successful and less-successful teams throughout an entire rugby league competition.


In total, 185 rugby league players representing 11 teams from a semiprofessional competition participated in this study. Global positioning system analysis was completed across the entire season. Video footage from individual matches was also coded via notational analysis for technical and tactical performance of teams.


Trivial to small differences were found among Top 4, Middle 4, and Bottom 4 teams for absolute and relative total distances covered and distances covered at low speeds. Small, nonsignificant differences (P = .054, ES = 0.31) were found between groups for the distance covered sprinting, with Top 4 teams covering greater sprinting distances than Bottom 4 teams. Top 4 teams made more meters in attack and conceded fewer meters in defense than Bottom 4 teams. Bottom 4 teams had a greater percentage of slow play-the-balls in defense than Top 4 teams (74.8% ± 7.3% vs 67.2% ± 8.3%). Middle 4 teams showed the greatest reduction in high-speed running from the first to the second half (–20.4%), while Bottom 4 teams completed 14.3% more high-speed running in the second half than in the first half.


These findings demonstrate that a combination of activity profiles and technical and tactical performance are associated with playing success in semiprofessional rugby league players.

The author is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia. Address correspondence to tim_gabbett@yahoo.com.au.

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