To investigate the influence of score line, level of opposition, and timing of substitutes on the activity profile of rugby sevens players and describe peak periods of activity.
Velocity and distance data were measured via 10-Hz GPS from 17 international-level male rugby sevens players on 2–20 occasions over 4 tournaments (24 matches). Movement data were reported as total distance (TD), high-speed-running distance (HSR, 4.17−10.0 m/s), and the occurrence of maximal accelerations (Accel, ≥2.78 m/s2). A rolling 1-min sample period was used.
Regardless of score line or opponent ranking there was a moderate to large reduction in average and peak TD and HSR between match halves. A close halftime score line was associated with a greater HSR distance in the 1st minute of the 1st and 2nd halves compared with when winning. When playing against higher-compared with lower-ranked opposition, players covered moderately greater TD in the 1st minute of the 1st half (difference = 26%; 90% confidence limits = 6, 49). Compared with players who played a full match, substitutes who came on late in the 2nd half had a higher average HSR and Accel by a small magnitude (31%; 5, 65 vs 34%; 6, 69) and a higher average TD by a moderate magnitude (16%; 5, 28).
Match score line, opposition, and substitute timing can influence the activity profile of rugby sevens players. Players are likely to perform more running against higher opponents and when the score line is close. This information may influence team selection.