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Jace A. Delaney, Grant M. Duthie, Heidi R. Thornton, Tannath J. Scott, David Gay and Ben J. Dascombe

Rugby league involves frequent periods of high-intensity running including acceleration and deceleration efforts, often occurring at low speeds.

Purpose:

To quantify the energetic cost of running and acceleration efforts during rugby league competition to aid in prescription and monitoring of training.

Methods:

Global positioning system (GPS) data were collected from 37 professional rugby league players across 2 seasons. Peak values for relative distance, average acceleration/deceleration, and metabolic power (Pmet) were calculated for 10 different moving-average durations (1–10 min) for each position. A mixed-effects model was used to assess the effect of position for each duration, and individual comparisons were made using a magnitude-based-inference network.

Results:

There were almost certainly large differences in relative distance and Pmet between the 10-min window and all moving averages <5 min in duration (ES = 1.21–1.88). Fullbacks, halves, and hookers covered greater relative distances than outside backs, edge forwards, and middle forwards for moving averages lasting 2–10 min. Acceleration/deceleration demands were greatest in hookers and halves compared with fullbacks, middle forwards, and outside backs. Pmet was greatest in hookers, halves, and fullbacks compared with middle forwards and outside backs.

Conclusions:

Competition running intensities varied by both position and moving-average duration. Hookers exhibited the greatest Pmet of all positions, due to high involvement in both attack and defense. Fullbacks also reached high Pmet, possibly due to a greater absolute volume of running. This study provides coaches with match data that can be used for the prescription and monitoring of specific training drills.

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Jace A. Delaney, Tannath J. Scott, Heidi R. Thornton, Kyle J.M. Bennett, David Gay, Grant M. Duthie and Ben J. Dascombe

Rugby league coaches often prescribe training to replicate the demands of competition. The intensities of running drills are often monitored in comparison with absolute match-play measures. Such measures may not be sensitive enough to detect fluctuations in intensity across a match or to differentiate between positions.

Purpose:

To determine the position- and duration-specific running intensities of rugby league competition, using a moving-average method, for the prescription and monitoring of training.

Methods:

Data from a 15-Hz global positioning system (GPS) were collected from 32 professional rugby league players across a season. The velocity–time curve was analyzed using a rolling-average method, where maximum values were calculated for 10 different durations, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 min, for each player across each match.

Results:

There were large differences between the 1- and 2-min rolling averages and all other rolling-average durations. Smaller differences were observed for rolling averages of greater duration. Fullbacks maintained a greater velocity than outside backs and middle and edge forwards over the 1- and 2-min rolling averages (ES 0.8−1.2, P < .05). For rolling averages 3 min and greater, the running demands of the fullbacks were greater than those of the middle forwards and outside backs (ES 1.1−1.4, P < .05).

Conclusions:

These findings suggest that the running demands of rugby league fluctuate vastly across a match. Fullbacks were the only position to exhibit a greater running intensity than any other position, and therefore training prescription should reflect this.