Physical demands of refereeing rugby sevens matches at different competitive levels

Ricardo Tannhauser Sant'Anna, Simon Roberts, Lee Moore, Keith Stokes

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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
Pages (from-to)3164-3169
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number11
Early online date1 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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