An Ecological Insight Into the Design and Integration of Attacking Principles of Play in Professional Rugby Union: A Case Example

in International Sport Coaching Journal
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  • 1 Queensland Reds Rugby Union
  • 2 Sheffield Hallam University
  • 3 Victoria University
  • 4 James Cook University
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This is an exciting era for applied research in high-performance sporting environments. Specifically, there are growing calls for researchers to work with coaches to produce “real-world” case examples that offer first-hand experiences into the application of theory. While ecological dynamics has emerged as a guiding theoretical framework for learning and performance in sport, there is a caveat to its use in the field. Namely, there is a general paucity of applied research that details how expert coaches have brought life to its theoretical contentions in practice. In light of this, the current paper offers a unique insight into how a professional Rugby union organization set out to ground their preparation for competitive performance within an ecological dynamics framework. More directly, this paper details how the Queensland Reds designed and integrated a set of attacking game principles that afforded players with opportunities in practice to search, discover, and exploit their actions. While this paper offers insight specific to Rugby union, its learnings are transferrable to coaches in other sports looking to situate their practice design within an ecological dynamics framework.

McKay is with the Queensland Reds Rugby Union, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Davids is with the Sport & Physical Activity Research Centre, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, United Kingdom. Robertson and Woods are with the Institute for Health and Sport, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Woods is also with the Sport and Exercise Science, James Cook University, Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

Woods (carl.woods@vu.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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