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Performance Analysis of Elite Rugby League Match Play Using Global Positioning Systems

McLellan, Christopher P1; Lovell, Dale I2; Gass, Gregory C1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: June 2011 - Volume 25 - Issue 6 - pp 1703-1710
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181ddf678
Original Research

McLellan, CP, Lovell, DI, and Gass, GC. Performance analysis of elite rugby league match play using global positioning systems. J Strength Cond Res 25(6): 1703-1710, 2011—The aim of this study was (a) to examine the physiological demands of competitive Rugby League match play using portable Global Positioning Systems (GPSs) to monitor players' movement patterns and heart rate (HR) and (b) examine positional comparisons to determine if players' physiological requirements are influenced by their playing position during Rugby League match play. Twenty-two elite male Rugby League players were monitored during 5 regular season competition matches using portable GPS software. There was no difference in the total distance traveled between backs (5,573 ± 1,128 m) and forwards (4,982 ± 1,185 m) during match play. Backs and forwards had an average HR of approximately 80% of their maximum (162 ± 11 and 165 ± 12 b·min−1, respectively) throughout each match. Backs achieved greater maximum running speed (8.6 ± 0.7 m·s−1), completed a greater number of sprints (18 ± 6), had less time between sprints (3.2 ± 1.1 minutes), achieved a greater total duration of sprinting (44.7 ± 9.1 seconds), and covered more distance sprinting (321 ± 74 m) than forwards did (6.8 ± 0.7 m·s−1, 11 ± 5, 5.2 ± 2.2 minutes, 25.8 ± 9.2 seconds, and 153 ± 38 m, respectively). The GPS successfully provided real-time feedback to identify significant positional differences in distances covered, running speed characteristics, and the physiological demands of competitive Rugby League match play.

1Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Queensland, Australia; and 2School of Health and Sport Sciences, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Address correspondence to Christopher P. McLellan,

© 2011 National Strength and Conditioning Association