Training load and match demands

Training Load and Match Demands

Understanding the demands of rugby match-play and the training to prepare players for this is a key aspect for all practitioners involved in the game. Our research has evaluated the demands of match-play including physical and technical aspects across multiple playing level from youth populations to international rugby league. We have undertaken large scale performance analysis projects including evaluating the tackle demands across 5 countries for World Rugby and lead a league wide project for European Super League with Catapult. These findings have influenced policy and practice for national organisations and practitioners working day to day within clubs.

Our partners

our impact

Our research has significantly changed policy and club practices for preparing players for the demands of match-play and player development. For example, the identified lower intensity of academy match-play resulted in the RFL adding a three game Under 18 academy Origin (i.e., Yorkshire vs Lancashire) into their fixture calendar benefitting over 40 players to experience higher-intensity competition to support their player development. A league wide dissemination of match-play physical data was shared by the RFL across all twelve RFL Super League clubs and all 14 RFU regional academies, which have influenced coaches planning and practice. Specifically, at Leeds Rhinos RLFC, this research has influenced their Player Development Plan and the intensity of coaches’ training has significantly increased from 2017 to 2019. Coaches directly evidenced Whitehead’s research on the worse-case demands of match-play as a major reason for changing their training practices.

We have used research from Leeds Beckett University to inform our training practices and matches. Research studies by Dr Dan Weaving have quantified the highest running and collision demands of Super League and NRL players, therefore we have used this data to evaluate our training and match demands.

Kevin Sinfield, MBE. Director of Rugby, Leeds Rhinos RLFC

Key Outputs


  • Till K, Weakley J, Read D, Phibbs, P, Darrall-Jones J, Roe G, Chantler S, Mellalieu S, Hislop M, Stokes K, Rock A, and Jones B. (in press) Applied Sport Science for Male Age-Grade Rugby Union in England. Sports Medicine, 6, 14, – Open, 10th January 2020 Hendricks, S., Till, K., den Hollander, S., Savage, T., Roberts, S., Tierney, G., Burger, N., Keer, H., Kemp, S., Cross, M., Patricios, J., McKune, A., Bennet, M., Rock, A., Stokes, K., Ross, A., Readhead, C., Quarrie, K., Tucker, R., Jones, B. (2020). Consensus on a video analysis framework of descriptors and definitions by the Rugby Union Video Analysis Consensus group. British Journal of Sports Medicine
  • Dalton-Barron, N., Whitehead, S., Roe, G., Cummins, C., Jones, B. (2020) Time to embrace the complexity when analysing GPS data? A systematic review of contextual factors on match running in rugby league. Journal of Sports Sciences Phibbs, PJ., Jones, B., Roe, G., Read, D., Darrall-Jones, J., Weakley, J., Rock, A., and Till, K. (2018) The organised chaos of English adolescent rugby union; Influence of weekly match frequency on the variability of match and training loads: Weekly training loads of elite adolescent rugby union players. European Journal of Sports Science. 18(3): 341-348
  • Whitehead, S., Till, K., Weaving, D., & Jones, B. (2018) The use of microtechnology to quantify the peak match demands of the football codes: a systematic review. Sports Med Jones B, Hendricks S and Till K (2019) Match and collision characteristics and exposures across world rugby union, World Rugby, Submitted 3rd August 2019 Weaving et al. The peak duration-specific locomotor demands and concurrent collision frequencies of European Super League rugby. Journal of Sports Sciences Jones, B. Hendricks, S. and Till, K. (2016) Training habits of elite male rugby union players. Rugby Football Union.