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Ryan M. Chambers, Tim J. Gabbett and Michael H. Cole

Purpose: Commercially available microtechnology devices containing accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and global positioning technology have been widely used to quantify the demands of rugby union. This study investigated whether data derived from wearable microsensors can be used to develop an algorithm that automatically detects scrum events in rugby union training and match play. Methods: Data were collected from 30 elite rugby players wearing a Catapult OptimEye S5 (Catapult Sports, Melbourne, Australia) microtechnology device during a series of competitive matches (n = 46) and training sessions (n = 51). A total of 97 files were required to “train” an algorithm to automatically detect scrum events using random forest machine learning. A further 310 files from training (n = 167) and match-play (n = 143) sessions were used to validate the algorithm’s performance. Results: Across all positions (front row, second row, and back row), the algorithm demonstrated good sensitivity (91%) and specificity (91%) for training and match-play events when the confidence level of the random forest was set to 50%. Generally, the algorithm had better accuracy for match-play events (93.6%) than for training events (87.6%). Conclusions: The scrum algorithm was able to accurately detect scrum events for front-row, second-row, and back-row positions. However, for optimal results, practitioners are advised to use the recommended confidence level for each position to limit false positives. Scrum algorithm detection was better with scrums involving ≥5 players and is therefore unlikely to be suitable for scrums involving 3 players (eg, rugby sevens). Additional contact- and collision-detection algorithms are required to fully quantify rugby union demands.

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Adam Beard, John Ashby, Ryan Chambers, Franck Brocherie and Grégoire P. Millet

Purpose: To investigate the effects of repeated-sprint training in hypoxia vs in normoxia on world-level male rugby union players’ repeated-sprint ability (RSA) during an international competition period. Methods: A total of 19 players belonging to an international rugby union senior male national team performed 4 sessions of cycling repeated sprints (consisting of 3 × eight 10-s sprints with 20 s passive recovery) either in normobaric hypoxia (RSH, 3000 m; n = 10) or in normoxia (RSN, 300 m; n = 9) over a 2-wk period. Before and after the training intervention, RSA was evaluated using a cycling repeated-sprint test (6 × 10-s maximal sprint and 20-s passive recovery) performed in normoxia. Results: Significant interaction effects (all P < .05, ηp2>.37) between condition and time were found for RSA-related parameters. Compared with Pre, maximal power significantly improved at Post in RSH (12.84 [0.83] vs 13.63 [1.03] W·kg−1, P < .01, ηp2=.15) but not in RSN (13.17 [0.89] vs 13.00 [1.01] W·kg−1, P = .45, ηp2=.01). Mean power was also significantly enhanced from Pre to Post in RSH (11.15 [0.58] vs 11.86 [0.63] W·kg−1, P < .001, ηp2=.26), whereas it remained unchanged in RSN (11.54 [0.61] vs 11.75 [0.65] W·kg−1, P = .23, ηp2=.03). Conclusion: As few as 4 dedicated specific RSH sessions were beneficial to enhance repeated power production in world-level rugby union players. Although the improvement from RSA to game behavior remains unclear, this finding appears to be of practical relevance as only a short preparation window is available prior to international rugby union games.