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Examining The Physical Demands of Elite Rugby League Match-Play

Evans, SD (2018) Examining The Physical Demands of Elite Rugby League Match-Play. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

The work undertaken from the studies in this thesis provides novel information in relation to the physical match demands of the European Super League (ESL) competition, focusing on a newly promoted ESL franchise. Specifically, this is the first work to examine the physical demands of competition for an entire squad of players across an entire competitive season in the ESL, the first to examine the physical demands of match-play over multiple longitudinal seasons, and the first to examine the effects of different between match recovery periods on the running demands for a large sample of ESL teams. Methodological work in this thesis has also highlighted the importance of quantifying and interpreting errors associated with GPS devices to quantify player movements and collisions. Chapter 4 examined the physical match demands for the newly promoted team over the entirety of a competitive season. Significant positional differences were evident, with Outside Backs (OB, 421 ± 89 m) and Pivots (PIV, 306 ± 108 m) performing more sprinting than Middle Unit Forwards (MUF, 185 ± 58 m) and Wide Running Forwards (296 ± 82 m). Conversely, MUF (35 ± 6) and WRF (36 ± 5) performed more collisions than PIV (23 ± 3) and OB (20 ± 3). Practitioners need to be aware of these differences when designing training and conditioning programmes for players. The high speed running (HSR) and number of collisions were greater for the newly promoted team than previously reported for higher ranked ESL teams, but are still lower than those experienced in the southern hemisphere National Rugby League (NRL). Chapter 5 examined the level of agreement between two different models of GPS device in measuring the total distance, and distance covered at high speed (> 5.0 m.s-1) in order that these could be examined in following chapters where two different models of device were used. The two devices showed acceptable levels of agreement in relation to specific analytical goals using positional data from Chapter 4 (total distance CV 0.8%, HSR CV 2.2%) and in relation to the differences between games won and lost at the elite level (mean bias [95% LoA] -0.29 m.min-1 [-1.6 m to 1.01 m.min-1] for total distance per minute, and 0.01 m.min-1 [-0.27 to 0.29 m.min-1] for HSR distance per minute)concluding the two devices could be used interchangeably to measure these parameters. Chapter 6 examined the physical demands of match-play for the newly promoted franchise over a three season period (2012-2014). There was an increase in the physical demands of competition in terms of the total distance coverer per minute (87.0 ± 2.4 m.min-1 – 96.6 ± 2.4 m.min-1), HSR distance covered per minute (6.3 ± 1.3 m.min-1 – 8.1 ± 0.5 m.min-1), and number of collisions per minute (0.43 ± 0.05 no.min-1 – 0.53 ± 0.04 m.min-1). These findings highlight that newly promoted teams need time to develop and adapt to the increasing demands of competition, which is a pertinent issue given the re-introduction of promotion and relegation from 2015. With the current structure, newly promoted teams will not have the chance to plan and develop over the long term, which could leads to teams spending over their means to attract the players required to keep them in the competition rather than focussing on long term player development. Chapter 7 examined the effectiveness of a wearable GPS device to automatically detect collision events during elite Rugby League match-play. The overall error of the device (19%) was associated with not correctly identifying a collision has occurred. Ball carries (97%) were more accurately detected than when compared to tackles (73%). First man tackles (83%) were more accurately detected than second man tackles (72%), and third man tackles (51%). This data suggests the microsensor device has the ability to automatically detect the majority of collision events in Rugby League match-play. However given the collision detection algorithm was originally developed for use in Rugby Union; this may need refinement for use in Rugby League, especially for detecting tackle events. Chapter 8 examined the effect of different between match recovery cycles (short, medium, and long) on the movement demands in subsequent matches on a larger sample of six elite ESL teams. Matches after a short turnaround were associated with greater HSR distance covered per minute of play (13.2 ± 6.9 m.min-1) than when compared to medium (11.6 ± 5.8 m.min-1) and long turnarounds (10.6 ± 5.6 m.min-1). Matches with long turnarounds were associated with increased low speed distance (< 3.8 m.s-1) covered per minute of play (84.8 ± 18.2 m.min-1) than both medium (79.3 ± 19.6 m.min-1) and short turnarounds (80.3 ± 17.7 m.min-1). The total distance covered per minute was only greater on a long turnaround (96.1 ± 16.9 m.min-1) when compared to a medium turnaround(72.9 ± 21.8 m.min-1). These data demonstrate that running performance is affected by the length of the between match recovery cycle, and coaches and conditioning staff working within the ESL should be mindful of these demands when developing recovery and training strategies for their players.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: activity profiles; microtechnology; time-motion analysis; rugby league
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports > GV711 Coaching
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV561 Sports
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2018 16:31
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2018 16:32
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00008823
Supervisors: Close, G
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/8823

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