Quantifying the Physical Demands of Small Sided Games in Rugby Union: Contact vs. Non-contact


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This study aimed to compare the physical demands of contact small sided game (CSSG), non-contact small sided game (NCSSG) and match play, in female rugby union. Fifteen female rugby union players participated within this study. Participants completed two testing sessions. Session one involved two 20-minute small sided games (contact and non-contact). Session two involved a competitive rugby union game. Movement characteristics, heart rate, PlayerLoadTM and tackles were recorded using GPS units and heart rate monitors. No significant differences were identified between conditions in relation to average heart rate or time spent in different heart rate zones. Significant differences were identified between conditions for distance, normalised PlayerLoadTM and tackles. Distance covered was significantly higher in the non-contact small sided game, while normalised PlayerLoadTM and tackles were significantly lower in this condition. These findings suggest that the physiological stress, in terms of heart rate, is comparable between the match and both small sided games. Thus both small sided games seem to elicit an appropriate internal training response. However, the reductions in tackles and normalised PlayerLoadTM in the non-contact small sided game are likely to reduce injury risk, while the increase in distance covered may enhance the training stimuli provided in this condition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
JournalCentral European Journal of Sport Sciences and Medicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2019


  • GPS
  • Rugby
  • Time Motion Analysis
  • Small Sided Game
  • Physical Fitness


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