Skip to main content

Match-play profile of elite rugby union, with special reference to repeated high-intensity effort activity (RHIE)

Abstract

The current investigation aimed to understand the positional profile of repeated high-intensity-effort activity (RHIE) across halves during elite rugby union match-play. Forty elite rugby union players (n = 40) were monitored across match-play during a single season. Player’s locomotor profiles were recorded using wearable microtechnology (GPS; Catapult S5, Australia). Locomotor activity was classified across total distance (m); running distance (m; ≥ 4.4 m s−1); high-speed running (≥ 5.5 m s−1); sprint distance (≥ 7 m s−1); accelerations (≥ 2 m s−2); decelerations (≤ − 2 m s−2); and collisions (≥ 4 g). Peak velocity (m s−1); total efforts (n); high-intensity efforts (HIE), repeated high-intensity efforts (RHIE), total number of RHIE bouts (n), maximal number of efforts within a RHIE bout (n) and recovery times between RHIE (s) were also recorded across match-play. Players were shown to complete 164 ± 30 HIE per game. Overall players performed 11 ± 6 RHIE bouts. The mean efforts per RHIE bout was 4 ± 1 with a maximum of 6 ± 2. RHIE positional differences were reported with back-rows completing the most total efforts when compared to all positions within the forwards (ES: 1.33–5.29; moderate–very large). Significant reductions were reported between halves for all running and repeated effort variables. The data highlight the potential consideration that RHIE should be given by coaches when preparing players for rugby union match-play. An understanding of the positional differences in RHIE can assist coaches in designing training drills that can expose players to these match-play requirements.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Austin D, Gabbett T, Jenkins D (2011) The physical demands of Super 14 rugby union. J Sci Med Sport 14:259–263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2011.01.003

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Suarez-Arrones L, Portillo J, Pareja-Blanco F et al (2014) Match-play activity profile in elite women’s rugby union players. J Strength Cond Res 28:452–458. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182999e2b

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Roe G, Halkier M, Beggs C et al (2016) The use of accelerometers to quantify collisions and running demands of rugby union match-play. Int J Perform Anal Sport. https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2016.11868911

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Pollard BT, Turner AN, Eager R et al (2018) The ball in play demands of international rugby union. J Sci Med Sport 21:1090–1094. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2018.02.015

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Cunniffe B, Proctor W, Baker JS, Davies B (2009) An evaluation of the physiological demands of elite rugby union using global positioning system tracking software. J Strength Cond Res 23:1195–1203. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181a3928b

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Tierney P, Tobin DP, Blake C, Delahunt E (2017) Attacking 22 entries in rugby union: running demands and differences between successful and unsuccessful entries. Scand J Med Sci Sport 27:1934–1941. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.12816

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Delaney JA, Thornton HR, Pryor JF et al (2017) Peak running intensity of international rugby: implications for training prescription. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2016-0469

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Couderc A, Gabbett TJ, Piscione J et al (2019) Repeated high-intensity effort activity in international male rugby sevens. J Strength Cond Res. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002986

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Austin DJ, Gabbett TJ, Jenkins DG (2013) Reliability and sensitivity of a repeated high-intensity exercise performance test for rugby league and rugby union. J Strength Cond Res 27:1128–1135. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e31825fe941

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Read DB, Jones B, Phibbs PJ et al (2017) Physical demands of representative match-play in adolescent rugby union. J Strength Cond Res 31:1290–1296. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001600

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Gabbett TJ (2000) Physiological and anthropometric characteristics of amateur rugby league players. Br J Sports Med 34:303–307. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.34.4.303

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. Read DB, Till K, Beasley G et al (2019) Maximum running intensities during English academy rugby union match-play. Sci Med Footb. https://doi.org/10.1080/24733938.2018.1464660

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Reardon C, Tobin DP, Tierney P, Delahunt E (2017) The worst case scenario: Locomotor and collision demands of the longest periods of gameplay in professional rugby union. PLoS ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0177072

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  14. Roberts SP, Trewartha G, Higgitt RJ et al (2008) The physical demands of elite English rugby union. J Sports Sci 26:825–833. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410801942122

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Quarrie KL, Hopkins WG, Anthony MJ, Gill ND (2013) Positional demands of international rugby union: evaluation of player actions and movements. J Sci Med Sport 16:353–359. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2012.08.005

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Rehrer NJ, Deutsch MU, Kearney GA, Rehrer NJ (2007) Time-motion analysis of professional rugby union players during match-play. J Sports Sci 25:461–472. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410600631298

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Austin D, Gabbett T, Jenkins D (2011) Repeated high-intensity exercise in professional rugby union. J Sports Sci 29:1105–1112. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2011.582508

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Austin DJ, Gabbett TJ, Jenkins DJ (2011) Repeated high-intensity exercise in a professional rugby league. J Strength Cond Res 25:1898–1904. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181e83a5b

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Johnston RD, Gabbett TJ, Walker S et al (2015) Are three contact efforts really reflective of a repeated high-intensity effort bout? J Strength Cond Res 29:816–821. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000000679

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Hulin BT, Gabbett TJ, Kearney S, Corvo A (2015) Physical demands of match play in successful and less-successful elite rugby league teams. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 10:703–710. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2014-0080

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Gabbett TJ, Wheeler AJ (2015) Predictors of repeated high-intensity-effort ability in rugby league players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 10:718–724. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2014-0127

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Black GM, Gabbett TJ (2015) Repeated high-intensity-effort activity in elite and semielite rugby league match play. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 10:711–717. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2014-0081

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Gabbett TJ, Gahan CW (2016) Repeated high-intensity-effort activity in relation to tries scored and conceded during rugby league match play. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 11:530–534. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2015-0266

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Jones MR, West DJ, Crewther BT et al (2015) European Journal of Sport Science Quantifying positional and temporal movement patterns in professional rugby union using global positioning system Quantifying positional and temporal movement patterns in professional rugby union using global positioning. Taylor Fr 15:488–496. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2015.1010106

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Johnston RD, Gabbett TJ, Jenkins DG, Speranza MJ (2016) Effect of different repeated-high-intensity-effort bouts on subsequent running, skill performance, and neuromuscular function. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 11:311–318. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2015-0243

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Whitehead S, Till K, Weaving D, Jones B (2018) The use of microtechnology to quantify the peak match demands of the football codes: a systematic review. Sport Med 48:2549–2575

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Johnston RD, Gabbett TJ, Jenkins DG, Hulin BT (2015) Influence of physical qualities on post-match fatigue in rugby league players. J Sci Med Sport 18:209–213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2014.01.009

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Johnston RJ, Watsford ML, Pine MJ et al (2013) Assessment of 5 Hz and 10 Hz GPS units for measuring athlete movement demands. Int J Perform Anal Sport 13:262–274. https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2013.11868646

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Brazier J, Antrobus M, Stebbings GK et al (2020) The anthropometric and physiological characteristics of elite rugby athletes. J Strength Condition Res 34:1790–1801

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Batterham AM, Hopkins WG (2006) Making meaningful inferences about magnitudes. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 1:50–57. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.1.1.50

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Reardon C, Tobin DP (2016) Collision count in rugby union: a comparison of micro-technology and video analysis methods Utilization of inertial measurement units to analyse lower limb movement in athletes with chronic ankle instability during sports related tasks View project Developing consensus on clinical assessment of acute lateral ankle sprain injuries View project. Artic J Sport Sci. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2016.1252051

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Link D, De Lorenzo MF (2016) Seasonal pacing—match importance affects activity in professional soccer. PLoS ONE. https://doi.org/10.1371/JOURNAL.PONE.0157127

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  33. McLean BD, Cummins C, Conlan G et al (2018) The fit matters: Influence of accelerometer fitting and training drill demands on load measures in rugby league players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 13:1083–1089. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2017-0729

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. García-Unanue J, Pérez-Gómez J, Giménez J-V et al (2018) Influence of contextual variables and the pressure to keep category on physical match performance in soccer players. PLoS ONE 13:e0204256. https://doi.org/10.1371/JOURNAL.PONE.0204256

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  35. Scott MTU, Scott TJ, Kelly VG (2016) The validity and reliability of global positioning systems in team sport: a brief review. J Strength Cond Res 30:1470–1490. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000001221

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Adam Sheehan.

Ethics declarations

Conflicts of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval and Informed consent

All players provided written consent prior to data collection in line with their professional contract obligations. Additionally medical declaration was obtained from participants in line with the procedures set by the local institutions’ research ethics committee (Technological University Dublin, Tallaght). The study was conducted according to the Declaration of Helsinki (1975) for studies involving human subjects.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sheehan, A., Malone, S., Walters, A. et al. Match-play profile of elite rugby union, with special reference to repeated high-intensity effort activity (RHIE). Sport Sci Health 18, 947–956 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-021-00879-9

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11332-021-00879-9

Keywords

  • Intermittent team sport
  • Positional demands
  • Repeated efforts
  • High-speed running