Referee positioning, but not match demands, score difference, or field location, are associated with breakdown decision-making accuracy in elite rugby sevens referees

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This study quantified rugby referees’ decision-making accuracy at the breakdown in an elite rugby sevens tournament, examining whether decision-making accuracy differed over time, and if it was associated with match demands, score difference, field location, and referee positioning. During the National Sevens Tournament (six referees, 22 matches), decision-making accuracy was analysed using video coding from 602 breakdowns and match demands were examined using GNSS technology and heart rate recordings. Overall, the referees had a decision-making accuracy of 88.2% with no changes over time (all p > 0.05). There were no significant associations between match demands, score difference, or field location and decision-making accuracy (all p > 0.05). However, significantly more incorrect decisions occurred when the referees were in a suboptimal position (29.0%) compared to an optimal position (10.9%) at the breakdown (p < 0.05). The findings suggest that referees’ decision-making accuracy during the breakdown remains relatively consistent across an elite rugby sevens tournament. While unaffected by match demands, score difference or field location, referees’ decision-making accuracy may be improved by optimising their positioning at the breakdown.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Performance Analysis in Sport
Early online date29 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2021


  • Global positioning technology
  • heart rate
  • match analysis
  • perceptual-cognitive skills
  • sport officials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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