The effects of impact loads from match play and training on performance measures within rugby union

  • Kyle Aaron Goggin

    Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science by Research


    Rugby union is a full contact sport comprising of impact or collision elements. There has been a propensity to research more locomotive aspects of the game in terms of distances covered, velocity and high intensity efforts. However, with the potential exception of biochemical markers resulting from muscle damage, little has been investigated from the aspect of impacts effecting performance measures. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to i) identify relationships between impact loads and changes in peak power (PP) as a result of match play and training loads from global positioning system (GPS) technology (Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia); and ii) investigate the response of PP to recovery periods as markers of neuromuscular fatigue (NF) within rugby union. Twenty nine elite male rugby union players, age 26.3 ± 3.9 years, height 185.2 ± 7.9 cm, and mass 101.7 ± 13.1 kg participated in the study. Participants performed three loaded (20kg Olympic bar) countermovement jumps (CMJ) at a self-selected depth on a portable force platform on the first training day (wkstart or post-match), and last training day (wkend or pre-match) of each competitive week over twelve weeks. All training and match play impact loads were recorded using GPS accelerometry and correlated with peak power differences as a result three or four day training periods or recovery periods of 48hrs and 72hrs. Significant (p < 0.05) negative correlations between zone 2, 3 and 5 impacts were recorded with zone 5 being the strongest during a three day training week alongside non-significant (p = 0.553) and trivial (effect size; ES = 0.14) changes in PP output. No significant correlations existed between the four day training week impacts and PP output, however there was a significant (p = 0.01) moderate (ES = 0.67) increase between week start (4609 ± 1081w) and week end (5192 ± 605w) PP values. There were no significant correlations between zoned impacts and PP following 48hrs or 72hrs of post-match recovery. Only total impact numbers from a three day training week were found to have a significant (p = 0.018) weak effect upon PP difference. At 48hrs post-match there was a significant (p = 0.004) but also moderate (ES = 0.61) negative reduction from pre-match (5122 ± 915w) and 48hrs post-match (4517 ± 1064w) recovery values. No statistical difference (p = 0.733) between pre-match (5275 ± 792w) and 72hrs post-match (5202 ± 726w) peak power was identified yet there was a significant decrement (P = 0.009) and interaction (p = 0.038) between postmatch 48hrs and 72hrs peak power values. The monitoring of impact loads from either the three and four week training week, or as a result of 48hrs and 72hrs post-match recovery did not provide conclusive evidence that impacts, zoned or total, directly affected PP. It was however identified, predominantly through match play that recovery duration has a significant effect upon recovery itself, whereby a shorter period of recovery results in a greater performance deficit through the use of PP. Future recommendations are the use of positional data, as opposed to group data, in order to acquire a more finite perspective on the effects of impacts on PP within positional groups. Further, an extended time period of investigation would allow greater detail with regard to the affect upon recovery and training strategies within a competitive season of accumulated impacts and varying recovery periods.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University


    • impact loads
    • rugby union
    • match play
    • training
    • performance measure

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