Objectives The purpose of the present study was to describe the match-play demands of professional rugby union players competing in Super 14 matches during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Design The movements of 20 players from Super 14 rugby union team during the 2008 and 2009 seasons were video recorded. Methods Using time-motion analysis (TMA), five players from four positional groups (front-row forwards, back-row forwards, inside backs and outside backs) were assessed. Results Players covered between 4218. m and 6389. m during the games. The maximum distances covered in a game by the four groups were: front row forwards (5139. m), back row forwards, (5422. m), inside backs (6389. m) and outside backs (5489. m). The back row forwards spent the greatest amount of time in high-intensity exercise (1190. s), followed by the front row forwards (1015. s), the inside backs (876. s) and the outside backs (570. s). Average distances covered in individual sprint efforts were: front row forwards (16. m), back row forwards (14. m), inside backs (17. m) and outside backs (18. m). Work to rest ratios of 1:4, 1:4, 1:5, and 1:6 were found for the front row and back row forwards, and inside and outside backs respectively. Conclusion The Super 14 competition during 2008 and 2009, have resulted in an increase in total high-intensity activities, sprint frequency, and work to rest ratios across all playing positions. For players and teams to remain competitive in Super 14 rugby, training (including recovery practices) should reflect these current demands. © 2011 Sports Medicine Australia.
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