Performance Indicators within Rugby Union post 2013/14 Law Changes
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Research into match statistics that discriminate between winning and losing teams has been conducted, but not since the most recent rule changes in rugby union (Bremner et al. 2013; Vaz et al. 2010 and Ortega et al. 2009). The aim of this study was to identify the key performance indicators that differentiate between winning and losing teams across domestic and international matches during the 2013-14 competitive season. The comparison included northern vs. southern hemisphere teams at international and domestic level, as well as winning and losing teams. The following competitions were selected within a sample of 52 pre-recorded matches: Six Nations (n=6), The Rugby Championship (n=6), Aviva Premiership (n=12), Rabodirect Pro 12 (n=12) and The Super Rugby Competition (n=16). International sides were selected based on World Ranking while domestic sides were selected on having reached the playoffs. The reliability of the operator was tested using kappa and recorded a very good strength of agreement (see Altman, 1991). The matches were analysed using SportsCode Elite (v9.8.3) and the results of the indicators were exported for analysis in SPSS (v.22) to compare differences between values of winning and losing teams as well as international and domestic teams. The main findings showed six of the eight key performance indicators had a significant difference between winning and losing teams and so in determining a winning to a losing sides (P<0.05). Lineout Success was deemed to be a significant indicator of performance as well as winning teams kicking more possession, providing similar findings to previous research (e.g., Vaz et al. 2010 and Ortega et al. 2009). The findings of higher gainline success and lower number of errors of winning teams were also in line with previous research (Bremner et al. 2013). The results can provide coaches with key performance indicators that could help improve performance and provide teams with areas for improvement that can be deemed significant in terms of improving results in relation to the modern game (i.e., post rule change). The findings also suggest that the previous conception of ‘quick ball’ at the ruck being less than three seconds (Bremner et al. 2013) may be too high given recent rule changes, with the finding that winning and losing teams achieved more than 50% of ball released from rucks in less than three seconds.
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