THE EFFECT OF A LAW VARIATION ON THE RUCK SITUATION IN RUGBY UNION
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The aim of the current study was to find out the effect of the law variation set up in 2010 on the ruck situation. The intention of the new rule was to increase continuity and competitiveness of the ruck. The adaptation means the player making the tackle or anyone connected to the ball carrier must completely let go of the player in possession before they can return to compete for a turnover. Ten games from the 2009/10 season and ten games from the 2010/11 season of the Welsh Premiership were analysed to find the differences in numerous variables at the breakdown situation. The data was collected using Sportscode 17.0 to gather information about the ruck situation and find the differences in team strategy between winning and losing teams as well as show the effects of the law change. The results were statistically analysed using the Mann Whitney U Test, Friedman Test and Wilcoxon Test to find relationships between the two seasons and winning and losing sides (p<0.05).The findings showed there to be a difference in the number of rucks (2009/10, n = 1186, 2010/11, n = 1395). The percentage of clean ball increased (n=265) substantially after the new law interpretation was brought in and suggested the way teams played was a more ruck based strategy. Teams seemed more confident with maintaining possession at the ruck situation and were able to win rucks with fewer players involved. Rucks were formed in similar areas of the field but in the 2010/11 season there was an increase in rucks formed in their own half (2.5%) as players had more time to secure possession. These results will help coaches and players understand the dynamics of the ruck situation and this knowledge will increase performance. In the future the effect of weather conditions on the ruck situations and analysing different referees would help extend this study.
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