Physical demands of refereeing rugby sevens matches at different competitive levels

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to compare the physical demands of officiating across different competitive levels in rugby sevens. An observational design was used involving twenty-seven referees (26 males, 1 female, age: 27 ± 6 years, body mass (mean ± SD): 78.5 ± 9.3 kg, height: 179 ± 5 cm). GPS data was collected across a total of 114 matches during five separate rugby sevens tournaments played in England - between May and July 2018 - categorized into four competitive levels: (1) international, (2) professional, (3) semi-professional, and (4) amateur. Compared with referees officiating at the international, professional, and semi-professional levels, referees officiating at the amateur level covered less total (p < 0.001) and relative distance (p < 0.001). Additionally, these referees covered more distance walking and jogging (p < 0.001). Amateur referees also completed fewer sprints (p = 0.006), and repeated high-intensity efforts per game (p < 0.001), and spent longer between repeated high-intensity efforts (p = 0.015). Finally, for the amateur referees, the duration of the longest repeated high-intensity bout (i.e., worst case scenario) was lower (p < 0.001), with less distance covered (p < 0.001), and fewer high-intensity accelerations (p < 0.001). Refereeing rugby sevens is therefore more physically demanding at higher competitive levels, particularly in terms of high-intensity efforts. The results provide vital information for practitioners involved in the physical preparation of rugby sevens referees.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Early online date1 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2019

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