An Investigation Into The Kicking Game At Three Different Levels Of Rugby Union
University of Wales
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The aim of this analysis was to compare the differences and similarities between three different levels of rugby union (International, Regional and Semi Professional) in relation to the kicks used and their success. With the constant changing of players from level to level at different stages of the season the generic skill of kicking is essential in the game. A lack of unpublished research comparing the different levels looking at kicking and its success has highlighted a possible gap where further research could be contributed. A specific coding template was created to log selected kicking performance indicators during the games which would reveal any trends between International (n=10), Regional (n=10) and Semi Professional (n=10) games. Using an intra-reliability test and percentage error calculations the reliability was confirmed with the system meeting the accepted level of percentage error (<15% overall). A non parametric Kruskal Wallis test was utilised to consider any significant differences. The results suggest that overall, kicking frequencies between the different levels are considerably different with an average of 9.3 kicks at Regional level over International level and an average of 4.1 kicks at Semi Professional level over International. A difference in the weighting of attacking/defensive kicks revealed a higher frequency of attacking kicks at all of the levels with at International level - 54/46%, Regional level – 58/42%, and Semi Professional level – 54/46%. A comparison of the number of passes before kick, either two or three passes showed no significance in the frequency between the levels (p>0.05). In contrast more kicks were completed after zero to one passes at Regional level (U=9.855, p<0.01) and kicks after 4 passes at International levels (U=8.039, p<0.05), supporting the view that international teams use more kicks resulting in scores. Although similarities in kicking strategies were evident between the levels, International teams were technically superior to both Regional and Semi Professional teams, as on average greater success was achieved in the different kicking variables. Winning teams kick more successfully at all levels than losing teams.
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