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The effects of travel on performance: A 13-year analysis of the National Rugby League (NRL) competition

Read, Dale B and Williams, Sean and Fullagar, Hugh HK and Weakley, Jonathon JS (2021) The effects of travel on performance: A 13-year analysis of the National Rugby League (NRL) competition. Science and Medicine in Football. ISSN 2473-3938

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Abstract

The purpose was to investigate the effects of travel on performance in the National Rugby League (NRL). A total of 4,704 observations from 2,352 NRL matches (2007-2019) were analysed. The effect of travel on match outcome (i.e., win/loss) was analysed using a generalized linear mixed model, and the points difference using a linear mixed model. For every 1,000 km travelled in the NRL, the estimated probability of winning a match was reduced by -2.7% [-5.7 to 0.3%] and the estimated points difference by -1.1 [-2.0 to -0.2] points. In relation to every 1,000 km travelled, the 2007-2009 seasons had the greatest reduction in the likelihood of winning a match (-2.7% [-4.7 to -0.6%]), with the 2018-2019 seasons having the greatest likelihood (1.1% [-1.2 to 3.3%]). Regarding inter-state travel, teams from the state of Queensland had the greatest reduction in the likelihood of winning a match while the team from the state of Victoria had the greatest likelihood, although there were no clear differences between states. These data suggest that travel has impacted performance in NRL matches although this effect has reduced over time. These findings are useful for practitioners that prepare athletes in sports where frequent short-haul travel is required.

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