Manipulating training activities to simulate physical match demands in rugby sevens



Rugby sevens is a demanding sport that requires extensive physical preparation. Coaches often have limited contact time with players, but must ensure adequate physical, technical and tactical preparation. Playing form approaches (e.g., small-sided/conditioned games and phase of play activities) for training team sports are effective for improving tactical awareness and decision-making, but little information is available to guide the specific formats required to achieve adequate physical conditioning. To investigate what playing form approaches were able to meet and/or exceed physical match demands, microtechnology devices were used to measure total distance, high-speed distance, maximum velocity, acceleration load density, PlayerLoad and collisions in a group of international rugby sevens players (n = 22) during four tournaments and two training camps. Differences in the mean and duration specific demands of matches and different training session types (volume, quality, speed, collision) were determined using linear mixed models and effect sizes (ES) with 95% confidence intervals. Volume and quality training types simulated mean and peak match demands effectively. Speed training exceeded the peak high-speed running demands of matches over durations from 1 to 5 minutes (ES range 1.8 to 2.5). These results demonstrate that appropriately prescribed playing form activities are able to simulate the physical demands of rugby sevens competition.

The Journal of Sport and Exercise Science, Vol. 5, Issue 5, 321-338 (2021)
Jason Tee
Jason Tee
Coach educator and performance consultant

Coach and sports scientist with an interest in player and coach development