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Energetic Demands of Interchange and Full-Match Rugby League Players

Cummins, Cloe J.1; Gray, Adrian J.2; Shorter, Kathleen A.2; Halaki, Mark1; Orr, Rhonda1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2018 - Volume 32 - Issue 12 - p 3447–3455
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001801
Original Research

Cummins, CJ, Gray, AJ, Shorter, KA, Halaki, M, and Orr, R. Energetic demands of interchange and full-match rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res 32(12): 3456–3464, 2018—The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the metabolic demands of rugby league for interchange and full-match players in relation to positional groups. Eighteen elite rugby league players were recruited. A time-motion model was used to estimate the energy expenditure and metabolic demands of rugby league match-play using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. This approach uses players' GPS velocity-time curves to examine running velocity. Players were categorized into positional groups (outside backs, adjustables, wide-running, and hit-up forwards) and then further categorized into full-match or interchange players. Compared with their full-match counterparts, interchange wide-running forwards expended greater energy (43.1 ± 6.1 vs. 28.6 ± 7.5 kJ·kg−1, p ≤ 0.001, effect size [ES] = −2.38) and produced a higher anaerobic index (p = 0.016, ES = 0.56) and mean power (7.4%, p = 0.003, ES = 0.66) per match. Full-match adjustables expended 94.8% more energy (p ≤ 0.001, ES = −2.3) and performed more moderate accelerations (10.1%, p = 0.014, ES = −0.57) and decelerations (7.6%, p = 0.017, ES = −0.8), than their interchange counterparts. Outside backs did not interchange and hit-up forwards rarely (n = 2) played an entire match. Differing metabolic demands were identified for interchange and full-match players across positional groups, suggesting position-specific conditioning drills are required to model the energetic demands of match-play.

1Exercise and Sports Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia; and

2School of Science and Technology, The University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia

Address correspondence to Dr. Cloe Cummins,

Copyright © 2018 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.