Movement demands of elite U20 international rugby union players

Daniel J Cunningham, David A Shearer, Scott Drawer, Robin Eager, Neil Taylor, Christian Cook, Liam P Kilduff

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37 Citations (Scopus)
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The purpose of this study was to quantify movement demands of elite international age grade (U20) rugby union players during competitive tournament match play. Forty elite professional players from an U20 international performance squad were monitored using 10 Hz global positioning systems (GPS) during 15 international tournament matches during the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons. Data on distances, velocities, accelerations, decelerations, high metabolic load (HML) distance and efforts, and number of sprints were derived. Data files from players who played over 60 min (n = 161) were separated firstly into Forwards and Backs, and more specifically into six positional groups; FR--Front Row (prop & hooker), SR--Second Row, BR--Back Row (Flankers & No.8), HB--Half Backs (scrum half & outside half), MF--Midfield (centres), B3--Back Three (wings & full back) for match analysis. Analysis revealed significant differences between forwards and backs positions. Backs scored higher on all variables measured with the exception of number of moderate accelerations, decelerations (no difference). The centres covered the greatest total distance with the front row covering the least (6.51 ± 0.71 vs 4.97 ± 0.75 km, p < 0.001). The front row also covered the least high speed running (HSR) distance compared to the back three (211.6 ± 112.7 vs 728.4 ± 150.2 m, p < 0.001) who covered the most HSR distance, affirming that backs cover greater distances but forwards have greater contact loads. These findings highlight for the first time differences in the movement characteristics of elite age grade rugby union players specific to positional roles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0153275
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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