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Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Sport and fitness sciences


The current investigation aimed to understand the differing positional demands across two elite rugby union competitions, with special reference to high-intensity effort (HIE) and repeated high-intensity effort (RHIE) activity. Four hundred and forty-one (n = 441) individual game files from thirty-five competitive games from the European Rugby Champions Cup (tier 1; n = 8) and PRO12 League (tier 2; n = 24) were analysed. Players’ locomotor profiles were recorded using wearable global positioning system microtechnology (10 Hz Catapult S5, Catapult Innovations, Australia). Locomotor activities were classified as running (4.4 ms1), high-speed running (5.5 ms1), accelerations (2 ms2) and decelerations (2 ms2). Data was gathered on collisions (4 g1), high-intensity efforts (HIE), repeated high-intensity efforts (RHIE), average number of efforts within a RHIE bout (n) and maximal number of efforts within a RHIE bout (n). Overall locomotor differences between competitions were trivial to small in nature, with tier 1 competition associated with a larger number of RHIE bouts (6.5 1.4 vs. 5.7 1.5, effect size, ES = 0.55) and efforts per bout (3.0 1.1 vs. 2.4 1.2, ES = 0.52). Collisions comprised a greater proportion of total HIE for forwards within tier 1 competition compared to tier 2 competition. The hooker (mean difference: 4 [10 to 14]; ES = 0.30, small), lock (mean difference: 5 [12 to 23]; ES = 0.36, small) and backrow (mean difference: 8 [10 to 15]; ES = 0.54, small) positions engaged in more collisions during tier 1 competition compared to tier 2 competition. These findings can be used by athletic performance staff to design game-specific drills and recovery strategies during different competition weeks to ensure players are appropriately prepared for the differing demands of elite rugby competition