A Physiological Profile of Female Rugby Union
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Rugby union is a full contact team sport combining physical elements of strength, speed and skill. Participants are expected to possess high levels of physical fitness as the game is famously characterised by the components of short bursts of high intensity interposed by periods of recovery or low intensity activity. The game is a combination of aerobic and anaerobic endurance, during which participants often rely upon multiple energy systems. The aim of this study was to provide a profile of the physiological demands experienced by female rugby union players during game play. Eight (8) female rugby players who were members of Cardiff Metropolitan University Women’s 2nd XV Rugby Squad were analysed. The players were sub-divided into three (3) categories; front row, second row, and back row. Each player undertook inclusive pre-game tests (age, stature, body mass, and maximum heart rate), followed 24 hours later by heart rate and movement pattern analysis during match play. Each heart rate reading was allocated into one (1) of six (6) zones, in correspondence to the individual’s maximum heart rate (0-60%, 60-70%, 70-80%, 80-90%, 90-95%, and 95-100% of maximum heart rate). Movement patterns were coded as one (1) of nine (9) activities (standing still, walking, jogging, running, sprinting, utility movements, jumping, rucking/mauling, and scrummaging). The results indicated that all players on average spent over 80% of game time working above the anaerobic threshold at 80-100% maximum heart rate, alongside displaying an average work to rest ratio of 1:1.7. Positional group analysis indicated the front row engaged in long duration, continuous bouts of exercise. Second row forwards tended to play a high ruck and maul role whereas the back row were more involved in high intensity sprinting and fringe work around the breakdown. The results provide a full physiological profile of the demands of female rugby union. The data provided could influence the alteration of training approaches for coaches and individual players.
DEGREE OF BACHELOR OF SCIENCE (HONOURS) SPORT CONDITIONING, REHABILITATION AND MASSAGE
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