The what and how of video analysis research in rugby union: a critical review

Journal Article


Journal Title

Sports Medicine

Journal ISSN
Volume Title

Springer International Publishing


University of Cape Town

Background Video analysis is a common tool used in rugby union research to describe match performance. Studies using video analysis range from broad statistical studies of commercial databases to in-depth case-studies of specific match events. The range of types of studies using video analysis in rugby union, and how different studies apply the methodology, can make it difficult to compare the results of studies and translate the findings to a real-world setting. In attempt to consolidate the information on video analysis in rugby, a critical review of the literature was performed. Main body Ninety-two studies were identified. The studies were categorised based on the outcome of the study and the type of research question, sub-categorised as ‘what’ and ‘how’ studies. Each study was reviewed using a number of questions related to the application of video analysis in research. There was a large range in the sample sizes of the studies reviewed, with some of the studies being under-powered. Concerns were raised of the generalisability of some of the samples. One hundred percent of ‘how’ studies included at least one contextual variables in their analyses, with 86% of ‘how’ studies including two or more contextual variables. These findings show that the majority of studies describing how events occur in matches attempted to provide context to their findings. The majority of studies (93%) provided practical applications for their findings. Conclusion The review raised concerns about the usefulness of the some of the findings to coaches and practitioners. To facilitate the transfer and adoption of research findings into practice, the authors recommend that the results of ‘what’ studies inform the research questions of ‘how’ studies, and the findings of ‘how’ studies provide the practical applications for coaches and practitioners.