Objectives: Identifying performance indicators related to rugby sevens competition outcomes will inform development of team tactics that increase the likelihood of success. This study characterized 16 team performance indicators and quantified the effect of changes and differences in performance indicators within and between teams on team ranking in international tournaments.
Design: Official tournament statistics and final ranking of each team in each of nine men’s tournaments of the 2011/2012 International Rugby Board Sevens World Series were analyzed in a retrospective longitudinal design.
Methods: Novel analyses involving linear mixed modeling quantified the effects within and between teams of an increase in performance indicators from a typically low to typically high value on the logarithm of the tournament ranking. Magnitudes of effects were assessed using a smallest meaningful difference in ranking.
Results: Three performance indicators had substantial within-team effects and 12 had substantial between-team effects on tournament ranking. More entries into the opposition’s 22-m zone per match, tries per entry into the opposition’s 22-m zone, tackles per match, passes per match, rucks per match and a higher percentage of tackle completion were associated with a better mean ranking. Conversely, more passes per try, rucks per try, kicks per try, errors per match, surrendered possessions per match, and missed tackles per match were related to a worse ranking.
Conclusions: The most successful teams maintain ball possession by reducing errors and turnovers, are efficient in converting possession into tries, and have effective defensive structures resulting in a high rate of tackle completion.
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