The purpose of this study was to characterize sprint patterns of rugby union players during competition. Velocity profiles (60 m) of 28 rugby players were initially established in testing from standing, walking, jogging, and striding starts. During competition, the individual sprinting patterns of 17 rugby players were determined from video by using the individual velocity profiles. Forwards commenced sprints from a standing start most frequently (41%), whereas backs sprinted from standing (29%), walking (29%), jogging (29%), and occasionally striding (13%) starts. Forwards and backs achieved speeds in excess of 90% maximal velocity (JOURNAL/jscr/04.02/00124278-200602000-00034/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T235322Z/r/image-pngmax) on 5 ± 4 and 9 ± 4 occasions (∼50% of the sprints performed), respectively, during competition. The higher frequency of sprinting for the backs compared with the forwards highlights the importance of speed training for this positional group. The similar relative distribution of velocities achieved during competition for forwards and backs suggests both positional groups should train acceleration and JOURNAL/jscr/04.02/00124278-200602000-00034/ENTITY_OV0312/v/2017-07-20T235322Z/r/image-pngmax qualities. The backs should have a higher total volume of sprint training. Sprinting efforts should be performed from a variety of starting speeds to mimic the movement patterns of competition.