Leeds Beckett University Sponsored PhD Studentship in Collaboration with the Rugby Football League (RFL) and Catapult Sports - Evaluating the Demands of Super League Using Player Tracking


   The School of Sport

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About the Project

Leeds Beckett University Sponsored PHD Studentship in collaboration with the Rugby Football League (RFL) and Catapult Sports - Evaluating the Demands of Super League using Player Tracking

  • Full-time
  • We fund UK fees and provide a stipend of £18,622
  • Start date: 1 February 2024
  • Location: UK (Leeds based)

Funding note: The studentship has a bursary of £18,622 per annum (pro-rata into 12 monthly payments) plus UK Fees paid initially for a period of three years

Leeds Beckett University, in collaboration with the Rugby Football League and Catapult Sports, are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to apply advanced statistical analysis and modelling techniques to evaluate the longitudinal match demands of Super League, and explore the contextual influences on the physical and technical performance of players in Super League. The PhD student will join a leading transdisciplinary team, involving academics, industry partners and a national governing body to deliver a highly impactful research project that directly benefits the players, and the sport. The candidate will have access to the world-class facilities at the Carnegie School of Sport including facilities in it's £45m Carnegie School of Sport Building.

The quality of Carnegie School of Sport research is evident in the outstanding results achieved in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, where we ranked 2nd nationally when accounting for both research quality and the number of contributing staff (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism). Within the Carnegie School of Sport, the Carnegie Applied Rugby Research (CARR) centre, led by Prof. Ben Jones and Prof. Kevin Till, undertakes high quality applied research with international and national governing bodies, and a range of professional sports teams. The CARR centre has over 60 researchers, working collaboratively to improve athlete welfare and performance. 

The Carnegie School of Sport at Leeds Beckett University is purposefully driven by a focus on working together to make a positive difference. Our strength is the breadth and depth of our research, which is underpinned by the disciplinary experience of our colleagues and students. Pursuing an inclusive and ambitious research agenda, we cross the broad spectrum of the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Our research culture is founded upon a genuine commitment and capacity to work with others on real-world applied problems, to achieve impact beyond academia. From our leading work on talent development, coaching practice, and anti-doping, to our research in gender equality, ageing and obesity, we work to apply our knowledge to address some of the key issues facing our communities today.

View more about our Carnegie School of Sport Building and Facilities

The studentship is subject to external funding.

PhD: Evaluating the Demands of Super League using Player Tracking

Catapult Sports have provided the Rugby Football League with a league-wide player tracking solution since 2017. Researchers from Leeds Beckett University have collaborated with Catapult Sports and the Rugby Football League to undertake a series of studies, to provide insight, and impact both policy and practice.

To date, the overall match demands have been quantified, which include longitudinal analysis (Rennie et al., 2022, 2021), the variability in match demands (Dalton-Barron et al., 2021), and the peak demands of match play (Whitehead et al., 2021a). In addition, the similarities between playing positions has also been investigated (Dalton-Barron et al., 2022), as well as comparisons by levels (Whitehead et al., 2021b). The physical performance of players is complex (Dalton-Barron et al., 2020) given how match events influence the need for players to perform physical actions, which require consideration when interpreting data.

More complex analysis frameworks have been developed (White et al., 2022) and applied to rugby league (Collins et al., 2023). In addition, complex modelling has used match event data to predict performance (Sawczuk et al., 2022, 2021). These progressive analyses demonstrate how greater insight can be provided from the data, to support policy and practice.

From a sports medicine perspective, the league-wide project was used as part of the first study in the world to look at SARS-CoV-2 transmission (Jones et al., 2021) and is now being used to further understand the concussion risk in rugby league (Parmley et al., 2023). These studies demonstrate the utility of the data, and application beyond player performance.

The successful PhD student will have the opportunity to work with an experience research team, and use the player tracking data to undertake innovative, meaningful, and impactful studies to enhance player performance and player welfare in rugby league.

The candidates will be expected to be based in Leeds, working both independently and collaboratively as part of a broader research team.

Research Team: 

Professor Ben Jones (Director of Studies) [Email Address Removed]

Dr Thomas Sawczuk (Supervisor) [Email Address Removed]

Neil Collins (Advisor)

Further information on how to apply can be found here

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their proposals with Professor Ben Jones and Dr Thomas Sawczuk.


Computer Science (8) Mathematics (25) Medicine (26) Sport & Exercise Science (33)

Funding Notes

Funding will consist of UK full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates (£18,622 per annum pro-rata into 12 monthly payments). Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress.
A laptop will be provided and the opportunity to apply for funding to support the research project.

References

Key Reading
Collins, N., White, R., Palczewska, A., Weaving, D., Dalton-Barron, N., Jones, B., 2023. Moving beyond velocity derivatives; using global positioning system data to extract sequential movement patterns at different levels of rugby league match-play. Eur. J. Sport Sci. 23, 201–209. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2022.2027527
Dalton-Barron, N., Palczewska, A., McLaren, S.J., Rennie, G., Beggs, C., Roe, G., Jones, B., 2021. A league-wide investigation into variability of rugby league match running from 322 Super League games. Sci. Med. Footb. 5, 225–233. https://doi.org/10.1080/24733938.2020.1844907
Dalton-Barron, N., Palczewska, A., Weaving, D., Rennie, G., Beggs, C., Roe, G., Jones, B., 2022. Clustering of match running and performance indicators to assess between- and within-playing position similarity in professional rugby league. J. Sports Sci. 40, 1712–1721. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2022.2100781
Dalton-Barron, N., Whitehead, S., Roe, G., Cummins, C., Beggs, C., Jones, B., 2020. Time to embrace the complexity when analysing GPS data? A systematic review of contextual factors on match running in rugby league. J. Sports Sci. 38, 1161–1180. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2020.1745446
Jones, B., Phillips, G., Kemp, S., Payne, B., Hart, B., Cross, M., Stokes, K.A., 2021. SARS-CoV-2 transmission during rugby league matches: do players become infected after participating with SARS-CoV-2 positive players? Br. J. Sports Med. 55, 807–813. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2020-103714
Parmley, J., Jones, B., Whitehead, S., Rennie, G., Hendricks, S., Johnston, R., Collins, N., Bennett, T., Weaving, D., 2023. The speed and acceleration of the ball carrier and tackler into contact during front-on tackles in rugby league. J. Sports Sci. 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2023.2273657
Rennie, G., Hart, B., Dalton-Barron, N., Weaving, D., Williams, S., Jones, B., 2021. Longitudinal changes in Super League match locomotor and event characteristics: A league-wide investigation over three seasons in rugby league. PloS One 16, e0260711. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0260711
Rennie, G., Weaving, D., Hart, B., Dalton-Barron, N., Jones, B., 2022. Tackle and ball carrier demands of rugby league: a seven-year league-wide study including over 1,000,000 tackle events. J. Sci. Med. Sport 25, 850–854. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2022.07.002
Sawczuk, T., Palczewska, A., Jones, B., 2021. Development of an expected possession value model to analyse team attacking performances in rugby league. PloS One 16, e0259536. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0259536
Sawczuk, T., Palczewska, A., Jones, B., Palczewski, J., 2022. A Bayesian Mixture Model Approach to Expected Possession Values in Rugby League. https://doi.org/10.48550/arXiv.2212.10904
White, R., Palczewska, A., Weaving, D., Collins, N., Jones, B., 2022. Sequential movement pattern-mining (SMP) in field-based team-sport: A framework for quantifying spatiotemporal data and improve training specificity? J. Sports Sci. 40, 164–174. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2021.1982484
Whitehead, S., Dalton Barron, N., Rennie, G., Jones, B., 2021a. The peak locomotor characteristics of Super League (rugby league) match-play. Int. J. Perform. Anal. Sport 21, 981–992. https://doi.org/10.1080/24748668.2021.1968659
Whitehead, S., Till, K., Jones, B., Beggs, C., Dalton-Barron, N., Weaving, D., 2021b. The use of technical-tactical and physical performance indicators to classify between levels of match-play in elite rugby league. Sci. Med. Footb. 5, 121–127. https://doi.org/10.1080/24733938.2020.1814492

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