Background Over the past 10 years the methodologies and technology of recording professional rugby union game data has greatly improved with global positioning system (GPS) now the gold standard.
Objective The aims of the present study were to evaluate the physical demands of the game at an international rugby union level using a GPS and establish the potential of the system in providing feedback to the management (sports medicine and coaching) team in relation to the mechanism/prevention of injury, as well as rehabilitation and exercise load prior to return to play.
Setting International rugby union team.
Patients Two international rugby union players were recruited to participate in this investigation.
Interventions GPS data generated by the two players (one forward and one back) in an international test match were analysed,
Main outcome measurements Specifically speed zones and bodyload sustained in tackles and scrum activities.
Results The back covered a greater overall distance compared to the forward. The forward had a higher number of entries into the low speed zones of standing/non-purposeful movements and walking with fewer entries into the high-intensity running and maximal speed running. Work-to-rest ratios were identical for both players over the course of the game. The forward player sustained a significantly higher number of impacts and total bodyload. Total and average bodyload in tackles made were larger for the back, with this trend reversed for tackles against.
Conclusion GPS data provides important performance indicators, assists in the development of conditioning and training protocols, as well as injury management and return to play criteria for players. This information should be utilised to identify injury prevention strategies and game characteristics, as well as improving player welfare.