To describe the physical and technical demands of rugby league 9s (RL9s) match play for positional groups.
Global positioning system data were collected during 4 games from 16 players from a team competing in the Auckland RL9s tournament. Players were classified into positional groups (pivots, outside backs, and forwards). Absolute and relative physical-performance data were classified as total high-speed running (HSR; >14.4 km/h), very-high-speed running (VHSR; >19.0 km/h), and sprint (>23.0 km/h) distances. Technical-performance data were obtained from a commercial statistics provider. Activity cycles were coded by an experienced video analyst.
Forwards (1088 m, 264 m) most likely completed less overall and high-speed distances than pivots (1529 m, 371 m) and outside backs (1328 m, 312 m). The number of sprint efforts likely varied between positions, although differences in accelerations were unclear. There were no clear differences in relative total (115.6−121.3 m/min) and HSR (27.8−29.8 m/min) intensities, but forwards likely performed less VHSR (7.7 m/min) and sprint distance (1.3 m/min) per minute than other positions (10.2−11.8 m/min, 3.7−4.8 m/min). The average activity and recovery cycle lengths were ~50 and ~27 s, respectively. The average longest activity cycle was ~133 s, while the average minimum recovery time was ~5 s. Technical involvements including tackles missed, runs, tackles received, total collisions, errors, off-loads, line breaks, and involvements differed between positions.
Positional differences exist for both physical and technical measures, and preparation for RL9s play should incorporate these differences.