Execution and outcome differences between passes to the left and right made by first-grade rugby union players

Stuart Pavely*, Roger D. Adams, Tanya Di Francesco, Stephen Larkham, Christopher G. Maher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To examine bilateral ball-passing skills whilst running amongst first-grade rugby union footballers. Design: Within-group design. Setting: NSW Rugby Training facilities, Moore Park, Sydney. Participants: One international player used as a case study and twenty, first grade rugby union players. Main Outcome measures: High-speed film was first used to capture the performance of an international rugby player in a reactive test situation. Next the reactive test situation was set up with four video cameras recording the passes that twenty first-grade rugby players threw left or right as directed, towards distant targets. Each pass was assessed for distance, accuracy and head turn towards the target. Reaction Time, Movement Time and Total Time of each pass were also considered. Results: Amongst the twenty first-grade rugby union players, most of the passes to the non-preferred side were forward passes - 57% vs 15% forward passes on the preferred side. For passes to the non-preferred side there was a greater chance of the combination of longer Reaction Time and shorter Movement Time that led to the ball being released before it was sufficiently around the body for the pass to be legal. Non-preferred side passes also travelled less distance than passes to the preferred side (13.5 m vs 15.4 m). Forward passes to either side were accompanied by less head turn, and had shorter movement time, than legal passes. Conclusions: Simply using greater effort to achieve more head turn could increase the risk of injury. Research on specific training of the balance and coordination components of ball-passing on the run is needed to obtain greater equality between sides of this nominally bilateral rugby skill.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-141
Number of pages6
JournalPhysical Therapy in Sport
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Ball-passing
  • Forward pass
  • Head turn
  • Preferred side
  • Reaction time
  • Rugby football


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