Influence of Physical Characteristics and Match Outcome on Technical Errors During Rugby League Match Play

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To explore the relationship between technical errors during rugby league games, match success, and physical characteristics. Methods: A total of 27 semiprofessional rugby league players participated in this study (24.8 [2.5] y, 183.5 [5.3] cm, 97.1 [11.6] kg). Aerobic fitness, strength, and power were assessed prior to the start of the competitive season before technical performance was tracked during 22 competitive fixtures. Attacking errors were determined as any error that occurred in possession of the ball that resulted in a handover to the opposition. Defensive errors included line breaks, penalties, and missed or ineffective tackles. Match outcome, the zone on the field in which each error occurred, and the number of errors in an error chain (≤60 s between errors) were assessed. Results: During a loss, there were more defensive errors in the 0- to 40-m zone than when a match was won (effect size = 0.99 [0.04–1.94]). Error chains were a predictor of conceding a try (P = .0001, r2 = .22), with the odds ratio increasing to 2.33 when there were 7 errors per chain. High lower-body strength was associated with fewer defensive errors for backs (Bayes factor = 3.67) and forwards (Bayes factor = 19.31); relative bench press was also important for backs (Bayes factor = 3.21). Conclusions: Fewer defensive errors occur in the 0- to 40-m zone during winning matches; lower-body strength is strongly associated with fewer defensive errors in rugby league players.

The author is with the School of Behavioural, Health and Human Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Address correspondence to richard.johnston@acu.edu.au.
International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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