Match analysis of the 2006 and 2008 Super 14 rugby union tournaments
Van den Berg, Pieter Hendrik
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Video analysis and more specifically, computer notational analyses (CNA), are considered by many scientists to be of great value for research purposes. It has also provided proof of the ability and contribution of CNA to evaluate the way match-play in a sport such as rugby has evolved through the years and to determine which performance indicators (PIs) are present in this sport code. CNA can also assist in determining the influence of such PIs on match performance. Based on this research application, rugby union turning professional in 1995 and the regular introduction of new laws in the game brought about the necessity for a more scientific approach in rugby union match analysis. This led the research team to the following objectives: To determine a) The effect of the experimental law variations (ELVs) introduced in rugby during 2008 on the PI-s; b) The frequency of the different PIs during matches played in the 2006 season; and c) The ability to evaluate performance (match outcome) and ranking of the teams. All the Super 14 rugby games (n=370) in the 2006 and 2008 seasons were recorded on video and analysed. The following PIs were analysed: turn-overs, percentage good scrums, percentage good line-outs, percentage tackles made, drop goals, penalty goals, rucks lost, rucks won, tries scored, line breaks, passes made, turnovers, off-loads in the tackle, meters gained, penalties conceded, kicks from hand and percentage tries converted. Descriptive statistics were calculated of each PI for each of the rugby teams, followed by independent t-tests to determine significance of differences between the 2006 and 2008 data. Additionally, forward stepwise discriminant analysis and forward stepwise multiple regression analysis were performed to determine which of the PIs influenced the ranking and performance of the different teams. Due to the fact that this was an inferential study, significance of differences were reflected by practical significance as determined by means of effect sizes. With regard to the ELVs, the study determined that a large practical significant decrease occurred in the frequency of serums and line-outs from the 2006 to 2008 competition. In contrast to this, the number of tackles made, meters gained and penalties conceded all showed a large practically significant increase over the same compared competition seasons. Meters gained, kicks 'from hand, line breaks and percentage tackles made were identified as the PIs which discriminated most accurately between successful and less successful Super 14 rugby union teams. Furthermore, meters gained, kicks from hand and line breaks were identified as the PIs which emerged as the best predictors (practical significant) of team ranking among the Super 14 rugby union teams during the competition. In conclusion, the results from this study therefore outlined the importance of the different PIs as predictors of performance and the ranking of the Super 14 rugby union teams. The increase in action activities and decrease in static activities between the 2006 and 2008 season suggests that the IRB have succeeded in addressing their objective of increasing the appeal of the game with the introduction of the ELVs.
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