The Use of Global Positioning and Accelerometer Systems in Age-Grade and Senior Rugby Union: A Systematic Review

Lee Bridgeman, Nicholas Gill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Global positioning systems (GPS) imbedded with accelerometer systems (AS) are used in rugby union (RU) to collect information on absolute and relative distances, distances in different speed zones, high-speed running (HSR) distances, repeated high-intensity efforts (RHIE) and collisions and impacts. This information can be used to monitor match play which can then be used to plan training sessions. The objective of this review was to conduct a systematic review of studies which have reported the use of GPS and AS.

    A systematic review of the use of GPS and AS in both age-grade and senior rugby was conducted. The authors systematically searched electronic databases from January 2010 until March 2020. Keywords included rugby union, GPS, global position* and microtechnology.

    A total of 51 studies met the eligibility criteria and were included in this review. There was a total of 34 studies utilising GPS and AS in senior RU players (mean ± SD; age 26.2 ± 1.9 years; height 185.7 ± 2.6 cm; mass 101.3 ± 4.2 kg) and 17 studies in age-grade RU players (mean ± SD; age 17.6 ± 1.5 years; height 182.1 ± 3.3 cm; mass 87.1 ± 8.6 kg). The results of this review highlighted that there are differences between backs and forwards and within these positions in these groups during both match play and training sessions. The backs covered greater total absolute, relative and HSR distance compared to forwards. Forwards are involved in more collisions and impacts than backs. When investigating the most intense periods of match play, studies in this review highlighted that the demands during these periods outweigh the average demands of the game. It was proposed that a rolling average over different time epochs is the best way to assess this and ensure that the most intense periods of play are assessed and monitored.

    The information highlighted in this review can be used to help coaches assess performances in match play, allow them to plan appropriate training sessions and monitor training load.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number15
    Pages (from-to)15
    JournalSports Medicine Open
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2021


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