Purpose: To quantify the frequencies and timings of rugby union match-play phases (ie, attacking, defending, ball in play [BIP], and ball out of play [BOP]) and then compare the physical characteristics of attacking, defending, and BOP between forwards and backs. Methods: Data were analyzed from 59 male rugby union academy players (259 observations). Each player wore a microtechnology device (OptimEye S5; Catapult, Melbourne, Australia) with video footage analyzed for phase timings and frequencies. Dependent variables were analyzed using a linear mixed-effects model and assessed with magnitude-based inferences and Cohen d effect sizes (ES). Results: Attack, defense, BIP, and BOP times were 12.7 (3.1), 14.7 (2.5), 27.4 (2.9), and 47.4 (4.1) min, respectively. Mean attack (26  s), defense (26  s), and BIP (33  s) phases were shorter than BOP phases (59  s). The relative distance in attacking phases was similar (112.2 [48.4] vs 114.6 [52.3] m·min−1, ES = 0.00 ± 0.23) between forwards and backs but greater in forwards (114.5 [52.7] vs 109.0 [54.8] m·min−1, ES = 0.32 ± 0.23) during defense and greater in backs during BOP (ES = −0.66 ± 0.23). Conclusions: Total time in attack, defense, and therefore BIP was less than BOP. Relative distance was greater in forwards during defense, whereas it was greater in backs during BOP and similar between positions during attack. Players should be exposed to training intensities from in-play phases (ie, attack and defense) rather than whole-match data and practice technical skills during these intensities.
Dale B. Read, Ben Jones, Sean Williams, Padraic J. Phibbs, Josh D. Darrall-Jones, Greg A.B. Roe, Jonathon J.S. Weakley, Andrew Rock and Kevin Till
Dan Weaving, Nicholas E. Dalton, Christopher Black, Joshua Darrall-Jones, Padraic J. Phibbs, Michael Gray, Ben Jones and Gregory A.B. Roe
Purpose: To identify which combination metrics of external and internal training load (TL) capture similar or unique information for individual professional players during skills training in rugby union using principal-component (PC) analysis. Methods: TL data were collected from 21 male professional rugby union players across a competitive season. This included PlayerLoad™, total distance, and individualized high-speed distance (>61% maximal velocity; all external TL) obtained from a microtechnology device (OptimEye X4; Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia) that was worn by each player and the session rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (internal TL). PC analysis was conducted on each individual to extract the underlying combinations of the 4 TL measures that best describe the total information (variance) provided by the measures. TL measures with PC loadings (PCL) above 0.7 were deemed to possess well-defined relationships with the extracted PC. Results: The findings show that from the 4 TL measures, the majority of an individual’s TL information (first PC: 55–70%) during skills training can be explained by session RPE (PCL: 0.72–0.95), total distance (PCL: 0.86–0.98), or PlayerLoad (PCL: 0.71–0.98). High-speed distance was the only variable to relate to the second PC (PCL: 0.72–1.00), which captured additional TL information (+19–28%). Conclusions: Findings suggest that practitioners could quantify the TL of rugby union skills training with one of PlayerLoad, total distance, or session RPE plus high-speed distance while limiting omitted information of the TL imposed during professional rugby union skills training.