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Physical and physiological demands of elite rugby union officials
journal contributionposted on 2019-10-01, 00:00 authored by MR Blair, Nathan ElsworthyNathan Elsworthy, NJ Rehrer, C Button, ND Gill
Purpose: To examine the movement and physiological demands of rugby union officiating in elite competition. Methods: Movement demands of 9 elite officials across 12 Super Rugby matches were calculated, using global positioning system devices. Total distance (in m), relative distance (in m·min-1), and percentage time spent in various speed zones were calculated across a match. Heart-rate (HR) responses were also recorded throughout each match. Cohen d effect sizes were reported to examine the within-match variations. Results: The total distance covered was 8030 (506) m, with a relative distance of 83 (5) m·min-1 and with no differences observed between halves. Most game time was spent at lower movement speeds (76% [2%]; <2.0 m·s-1), with large effects for time spent >7.0 m·s-1 between halves (d = 2.85). Mean HR was 154 (10) beats·min-1 (83.8 [2.9]%HRmax), with no differences observed between the first and second halves. Most game time was spent between 81%HRmax and 90%HRmax (40.5% [7.5%]) with no observable differences between halves. Distances covered above 5.1 m·s-1 were highest during the first 10 min of a match, while distance at speeds 3.7 to 5 m·s-1 decreased during the final 10 min of play. Conclusions: These findings highlight the highly demanding and intermittent nature of rugby union officiating, with only some minor variations in physical and physiological demands across a match. These results have implications for the physical preparation of professional rugby union referees. © 2018 Human Kinetics, Inc.