Running demands in women’s rugby

Busbridge, A. R.
Hamlin, Michael J.
Jowsey, J. A.
Vanner, M. H.
Olsen, P. D.
Conference Contribution - published
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Introduction: Rugby union is a dynamic field based collision sport requiring technical skill and physical conditioning. There has been rapid growth in women’s rugby worldwide, yet there is limited research determining the physical demands of the sport. Measuring running demands with GPS could aid in the design of training programmes, which are specific to players needs in competition. Consequently, we quantified the running demands of female rugby players in national provincial matches. Method: Twenty players from a Farah Palmer Cup team participated in the study. Players wore 10 Hz GPS units during seven games to measure total distance covered, all running distance (≥6.4 km·h-1), high intensity (HI) running (≥16.1 km·h-1) and maximum speed (km·h-1). Data was divided into six positional groups (front row, locks, loose forwards, inside backs, midfield backs and outside backs). Results: All players travelled a similar total distance during matches (5887 ± 326 m). Outside backs spent ~60% of matches walking and did less running (2456 ± 114 m) than other positions (p ≤ 0.05). In contrast, the half back recorded significantly higher running distances (4292 ± 171 m), greater HI running distances (1003 ± 58 m), and more distance overall (6812 ± 277 m) than other positions (p ≤ 0.05). Maximum velocity for backs was higher than forwards (26.3 ± 0.3 km·h-1 vs 22.4 ± 1.1 km·h-1). Discussion: Physical demands experienced by women’s rugby union players varies depending on playing position. To adequately prepare athletes for competition, coaches and trainers should consider individual match demands in training. Take home message: The half back position is very demanding in terms of low and high-speed running whilst outside backs covered less distances at higher speeds and running in general. Therefore, position specific conditioning practices and coaching tactics such as selection should reflect these findings.
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