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Rugby and Football Research

The Rugby and Football Research Centre undertakes research projects which examine best practice in rugby and football codes. The Centre aims to better understand areas such as performance analysis, talent identification, coaching, fatigue, training load monitoring, injury management and strength and conditioning.

The creation of evidence-based practices that promote player development, participation and health are a key objective for the Centre, which combines experts in sport science, medicine, psychology, technology, and management. The Centre works closely with with industry partners; these include the Brumbies Super 15 rugby union team, The Canberra Raiders, Australian Rugby Union, SmartRugby, BokSmart, Capital Football, and the Canberra United "W league" football team. Academic collaborations include the universities of Cape Town and Pretoria in South Africa, and the University of Saarland in Germany.


To create a high quality environment for students, researchers, coaches and practitioners of rugby and football to conduct research and development activities that impact the region, nationally and internationally.


  • Develop national and international partnerships
  • Implement high quality research and innovation programs
  • Promote participation and high performance sport
  • Develop community and regional linkages


  • Athlete health (including concussion injuries)
  • Develop evidence-based practice and educational materials
  • Business development through marketing, management and media as well as through the use of social media to engage audiences
  • Talent identification and athlete performance testing
  • Performance analysis using innovative methods
  • Strength and conditioning and the support of athletic performance and injury management
  • Athlete monitoring using global positioning systems and other advanced technologies

The University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UCRISE) Rugby and Football Research Centre offers consultancy, collaborative research and educational programs. Contact our group on (02) 6206 8883 or to see how we can assist you in rugby and football development, research and education.

Examples of Projects

Quantifying the physical requirements of elite-level female football players with specific reference to pacing strategies and acceleration profiles

This project is being undertaken by APA funded PhD candidate and teaching fellow Jocelyn Mara. Jocelyn has worked in close collaboration with the Canberra United "W league" football team. The project has involved monitoring training sessions and matches over a number of seasons to provide new knowledge concerning the physiological and physical characteristics of elite female football players. Different phases of the project examined training and game energy expenditure, the demands of different formats of small-sided games, a player tracking system, and the activity profiles of players during competitive matches. The primary outcomes of the study include the optimisation of training and maximisation of on-field performance. The supervisory team includes: Professor Kevin Thompson and Dr Kate Pumpa. 

Physiology and game demands of women's rugby sevens

Anthea Clarke's APA and AIS Scholarship funded PhD project is a joint collaboration between the University of Canberra, the Australian Institute of Sport and Australian Rugby Union. The aims of the project are to:

  1. provide a physiologically-based threshold for the appropriate interpretation of high-intensity running in female players;
  2. understand the short-term physiological and haematological changes that occur following tournaments;
  3. track changes in haematological measures to observe the possibility of low iron stores;
  4. identify the physical and physiological differences between male and female players at different levels of competition (junior, senior and elite) and their relationship with the on-field running movements of players; and
  5. assess the ability of common player tracking devices (GPS) to capture the demands of physical collision events during game play.

Overall, this PhD will aid coaching staff in the appropriate monitoring of players on and off the field, direct specific training and recovery methods from tournaments, and inform talent identification and player selection processes. The supervisory team includes Professor D Pyne, Dr J Anson, and Professor G Waddington.