Athlete Monitoring in Rugby Union: Is Heterogeneity in Data Capture Holding Us Back?

Stephen West, Sean Williams, Simon P T Kemp, Matthew Cross, Keith Stokes

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In an effort to combat growing demands on players, athlete monitoring has become a central component of professional sport. Despite the introduction of new technologies for athlete monitoring, little is understood about the practices employed in professional rugby clubs. A questionnaire was circulated amongst conditioning staff across the 12 Premiership rugby clubs to capture the methods used, relative importance, perceived effectiveness and barriers to the use of multiple different athlete monitoring measurements. Previous injury, Global Positioning System (GPS) metrics, collision counts and age were deemed the most important risk factors for managing future injury risk. A wide range of GPS metrics are collected across clubs with high-speed running (12/12 clubs), distance in speed zones (12/12 clubs) and total distance (11/12 clubs) the most commonly used. Of the metrics collected, high-speed running was deemed the most important for managing future injury risk (5/12 clubs); however, there was considerable variation between clubs as to the exact definition of high-speed running, with both absolute and relative measures utilised. While the use of such monitoring tools is undertaken to improve athlete welfare by minimising injury risk, this study demonstrates the significant heterogeneity of systems and methods used by clubs for GPS capture. This study therefore questions whether more needs to be done to align practices within the sport to improve athlete welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Article number98
Issue number5
Early online date27 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2019


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