The relationship between strength, power and speed measures and playing ability in premier level competition rugby forwards

Bramley, Wesley Joel (2006) The relationship between strength, power and speed measures and playing ability in premier level competition rugby forwards. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Physical tasks such as scrummaging, rucking and mauling are highly specific to rugby and also place unique physiological demands on the different playing positions within the forwards. Traditionally, the recruitment and development of talented rugby union players has focused on the assessment of motor skills and game intelligence aspects of performance, with less emphasis placed on the specific physiological requirements of playing positions in rugby. The purpose of this investigation was to measure the position-specific strength, speed and power characteristics of Premier rugby forwards in order (1) to determine whether any differences existed in the physiological characteristics of the different forward playing positions (prop, lock and loose forwards) and (2) to investigate the relationship between these physiological characteristics and coaches evaluations of football playing ability.

Twenty-two male Premier level competition rugby forwards, consisting of eight prop forwards, five lock forwards and nine loose-forwards participated in the study. The Grunt 3000, a rugby specific force testing device was utilised to measure the static and dynamic horizontal strength during simulated scrummaging and rucking/mauling movements. Sprint times relating to acceleration ability (0 -10m, 0-20m) and maximum running speed (20 - 40m) were measured during a 40m sprint running test. In addition, force, power and displacement characteristics of a countermovement vertical jump were calculated from trials performed on a force plate. Also, player performance skill and physical capacity scores were determined independently by experienced coaches who assessed them based on their performances during the season. One-way analysis of variance and effect size statistics evaluated differences in the measured variables between forward playing positions and linear regression analysis evaluated the relationship between the coaches' scores of player performance skill and physical capacity and game specific measures of strength speed and power.

Since there were no statistical significant differences between forward groups for horizontal force and countermovement jump variables and these analyses lacked statistical power, an effect size statistic was used to establish trends for differences in force and CMJ variables between the groups. There were moderate effect size differences between groups for horizontal impact force with prop and lock forwards producing 17.7% and 12.8% more force than the loose forwards respectively. No clear differences were apparent between forward positional groups for mean dynamic horizontal force and countermovement jump displacement of the centre of gravity. A significant difference (p =0.049) was shown between forward positional groups over the 0-40m sprint distance. Also, moderate effect size differences between pairs of groups were evident in 0-10m, 0-20m, 20-40m sprint times with both loose forwards and lock forwards on average, 6% faster than the prop forwards. A backward linear regression analysis revealed that the single best predictor of coaches' physical capacity and performance skill scores was the 20 - 40m sprint performance, accounting for 28% of the variance in player's physical capacity scores and 29% of the variance in player's performance skill scores.

Whole-body horizontal static strength and impact strength in prop forwards and dynamic horizontal strength (relative to body mass) and sprint acceleration ability in loose forwards represent key factors for consideration when selecting forward players to these positions in the Premier rugby competition. The vertical jumping ability of all forward positional groups needs to be confirmed in a future study utilising a line-out specific countermovement jump test (free use of arm swing and line-out lifters in the jump) on a force plate. Monitoring of performance in rugby forwards should include an acceleration sprint test (0-10m) as this is specific to the sprinting patterns of forward players during a game, and maximum sprinting speed test (20-40m) as this test has the ability to discriminate between skilled and less-skilled rugby union forwards.

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ID Code: 16252
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Parker, Anthony & Le Rossignol, Peter
Keywords: rugby, performance, forward players, playing position, horizontal force, sprint times, power, countermovement jump, physical capacity, relationship, coach, physical capacity score, performance skill score, dynamic, static, measures, football playing ability, ruck, maul, scrum, line-out
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Department: Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Wesley Joel Bramley
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:59
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:40

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