A comparative analysis of attacking styles adopted by Northern and Southern Hemisphere international rugby teams.
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The aim of this study was to find and compare differences in match play variables between Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere teams. Match play variables of Northern Hemisphere games (n=8) and Southern Hemisphere games (n=8) were analysed from video recordings, in order to identify differences between attacking styles of play of the two hemispheres. The match play variables that were coded were; Origin of possession, Area of field, number of phases, width of phase, gainline, offloads and outcome of possession. Intra-observer reliability testing was conducted on 11 variables. 9 variables reached above 0.8 on Altman (1991) model of evaluation of K. Offloads had an absolute mean difference of 0.04, and ruck speed percentage time difference of 0.29 seconds, all of which were deemed reliable. Following the coding of the games using SportsCode Elite, the data were then analysed using Microsoft Excel (2011) and SPSS, where Mann Whitney U and Friedman statistical tests were conducted to obtain statistical difference results, with the subsequent results being displayed in a visually interpretable manner using graphs. Southern Hemisphere were found to have significantly lower ruck speed (p<0.05), and significantly higher mean percentage values for variables Wide, Wide and Over Gainline and Wide and Made Gainline. Northern Hemisphere were found to have significantly higher mean values for variables Gainline Loss and Outside 9. No other statistical differences were found. The study concluded that differences of attacking styles between hemisphere teams are evident with Southern Hemisphere playing a wider and faster paced game. However, majority of the variables were found to represent non-significant differences, suggesting that success of Southern Hemisphere rugby may not be down to differences in attacking styles, but the ability to execute skills better through focus and development of basic skills.
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