Movement Demands of Elite Rugby League Players during Australian National Rugby League and European Super League Matches

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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This study compared the movement demands of players competing in matches from the elite Australian and European rugby league competitions.


Global positioning system devices were used to measure 192 performances of forwards, adjustables, and outside backs during National Rugby League (NRL; n = 88) and European Super League (SL; n = 104) matches. Total and relative distances covered overall and at low (0–3.5 m/s), moderate (3.6–5 m/s), and high (>5 m/s) speeds were measured alongside changes in movement variables across the early, middle, and late phases of the season.


The relative distance covered in SL matches (95.8 ± 18.6 m/min) was significantly greater (P < .05) than in NRL matches (90.2 ± 8.3 m/min). Relative low-speed activity (70.3 ± 4.9 m/min vs 75.5 ± 18.9 m/min) and moderate-speed running (12.5 ± 3.3 m m/min vs 14.2 ± 3.8 m/min) were highest (P < .05) in the SL matches, and relative high-speed distance was greater (P < .05) during NRL matches (7.8 ± 2.1 m/min vs 6.1 ± 1.7 m/min).


NRL players have better maintenance of high-speed running between the first and second halves of matches and perform less low- and moderate-speed activity, indicating that the NRL provides a higher standard of rugby league competition than the SL.

Twist, Edwards, and Highton are with the Dept of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Chester, Chester, UK. Waldron is with the School of Science and Technology, University of New England, Armidale, Australia. Austin is with the Sydney Swans Australian Football Club, Sydney, Australia. Gabbett is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia. Address author correspondence to Craig Twist at