A time-motion analysis of professional rugby league match-play

J Sports Sci. 2009 Feb 1;27(3):213-9. doi: 10.1080/02640410802538168.


The aim of this study was to analyse movement patterns of professional rugby league players during matches played as part of Australia's National Rugby League (NRL) competition. The movement patterns of one player from each of the three positional groups (hit-up forwards, adjustables, and outside backs) during three competition matches were examined using time-motion analysis. Positional groups differed in distances covered (P = 0.001), and covered shorter distances than those described in earlier research. The mean exercise-to-rest ratio was 1:6 for the outside backs and hit-up forwards and 1:5 for the adjustables. However, such ratios did not reflect the most demanding periods of the game, which included repeated high-intensity efforts interspersed with recovery periods of short duration. These periods of repeated high-intensity exercise often occurred at crucial phases of the game, when players were either attacking or defending the try-line. Furthermore, patterns of movement during repeated high-intensity periods of play differed among positional groups. To prepare for the most highly intense periods of match-play, professional rugby league players should adopt position-specific training that includes the highest and lowest exercise-to-rest ratios likely to be experienced in competition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Football / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Time and Motion Studies
  • Video Recording