3 years ago

A comparison of game-play characteristics between elite youth and senior Australian National Rugby League competitions

To compare game-play characteristics between elite youth and senior Australian National Rugby League (NRL) competitions. Design Longitudinal observational. Methods The dataset consisted of 12 team performance indicators (e.g., ‘all runs’, ‘offloads’ and ‘tackles’) extracted from all 2016 national under 20 (U20) competition (elite youth; n=372 observations) and National Rugby League (NRL) (elite senior; n=378 observations) matches. Data was classified according to competition (Two levels: U20 and NRL) and modelled using two techniques. Firstly, non-metric multidimensional scaling resolved multivariate competition (dis)similarity, visualised using a two-dimensional ordination. Secondly, a conditional interference (CI) classification tree was grown to reveal the performance indicators most capable of explaining competition level. Results Non-metric multidimensional scaling revealed high competition dissimilarity, with U20 and NRL teams orienting distinctive positions on the first dimension of the ordination surface. Five team performance indicators were retained within the CI tree (‘all runs’, ‘tackle breaks’, ‘tackles’, ‘missed tackles’, and ‘kicks’), which correctly classified 79% of the U20 observations and 93% of the NRL observations. Conclusions Multivariate differences between elite youth and senior rugby league competitions were identified. Specifically, NRL game-play was classified by a greater number of ‘all runs’, and ‘tackles’ and a lower number of ‘missed tackles’ relative to the U20 competition. Given the national U20 competition is purported to assist with the development of prospective NRL players, junior coaches may consider training interventions that primarily aid the tackling capacities of players. This may subsequently assist with talent development and player progression in Australian rugby league.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S1440244017316535

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