Comparison of playing actions of back-row players in elite and non-elite Rugby Union
University of Wales
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The study intended to compare and contrast the differences in back-row player’s contributions in Rugby Union matches between Elite and Non-Elite sides. Performance indicators were selected to include every action a back-row player would be involved in, with additional variables added to encompass every eventually that could occur during a typical match. Additionally, team ball possession was recorded to provide more accurate analysis. Once the teams were identified, post-match video analysis of 20 matches involving the elite (n=10) and non-elite (n=10) was conducted from the 2009/10 English and Welsh Premiership, where SportsCode was used to record the actions by each player. Prior to any official testing, intra-observer reliability tests were performed on the system, with the results reporting a very good strength of agreement according to the Altman (1991) Kappa scale, allowing for official testing to be performed. Player performances within the reliability test, allowed performance indicators to be linked with positional roles. The blindside flanker was involved with effective rucking, the open side flankers turning the ball over and tackling and the number eight with ball carrying. Echoing the literature by Long and Hughes (2004)¬, Vivian et al. (2006) and Parsons and Hughes (2006). Independent statistical and related samples tests, Mann-Whitney U and Wilcoxon tests, highlighted significant differences within the total amount of carries (p<0.001), positive carries (p<0.001) and total positive actions of the back-row unit as a whole (p<0.05). Additionally, significant differences where found between individual player comparisons in total positive actions (p<0.001) and total positive carries (p<0.001), between the elite and non-elite number eight’s. There were no significant differences between both flanker positions; however there were differences in total number of positive actions between the players. The team possession data illustrated that the ball was in play longer during the elite team’s matches, therefore, playing a contributing factor in the elite team having a higher total time in attack and defence average. In conclusion, the results show that there were no significant differences between the blind side and open side flankers at different levels, however, there were significant differences between the way in which the number eight’s play the game.
BA Enterprise Project
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