Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2019) 18, 419 - 426

Research article
In-Match Physical Performance Fluctuations in International Rugby Sevens Competition
Alexis Peeters1, Christopher Carling1,2, , Julien Piscione1, Mathieu Lacome3
Author Information
1 Performance Department, Fédération Française de Rugby, Marcoussis, France
2 Institute of Coaching & Performance, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
3 Performance Department, Paris Saint-Germain FC, France

Christopher Carling
✉ PhD Institute of Coaching & Performance, University of Central Lancashire, UK
Publish Date
Received: 20-03-2019
Accepted: 16-05-2019
Published (online): 01-08-2019
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It is widely recognised that the physical demands in rugby sevens are high especially in comparison to the 15-aside version. The aim of this study was to assess fluctuations in physical performance (running and contact loads) in international rugby sevens competition. Altogether, 32 matches played by an international team in the HSBC World Sevens Series were analyzed (63 match-observations). Players wore a validated GPS device (SensorEverywhere, France) sampling at 16Hz while an operator coded every contact action (tackles, collisions, mauls, scrums) using video analysis software (SportsCode, USA). Running load was assessed using total distance travelled (m), individually determined high-speed distance (covered at velocities > maximal aerobic speed, m) and very-high speed distance (covered at velocities > 85% maximal sprinting speed, m). The frequency of accelerations (actions > 2.5 m·s-2) and high-intensity actions (HIA, sum of high-velocity runs, accelerations and contact-related actions, n) were also calculated. A magnitude-based inferential approach to statistics was adopted and effect sizes quantified. Findings showed: 1) a small decrease in high-speed distance and number of accelerations performed during the second- versus the first-half of play suggesting a decline in running performance. (2) a moderately higher total distance and high-speed distance covered during the first and final 1-min period compared to the average for other 1-min periods, suggesting a specific reverse ‘J-shape’ pacing profile 3) a most likely decrease in total distance, high-speed running, and to a lesser extent the number of accelerations declined following the peak 1-min period of the game. These findings provide pertinent information on changes in running performance over the course of international sevens and have implications for physical conditioning strategies.

Key words: Rugby, workload, gps, fatigue, pacing

           Key Points
  • Small decreases occur in high speed distance and number of accelerations in the second- compared to the first-half of match play.
  • High-speed running activity was most likely decreased following the peak 1-min period of the game compared to the mean of all 1-min periods.
  • High-speed running activity did however increase during the final 2-minutes of play.
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