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Activity analysis of English premiership rugby football union refereeing

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Little is known about the physiological demands placed on officials during sporting activities. The purpose of this study was to ascertain the movement activities of referees during English Premiership rugby football union matches, and to determine the frequency and duration of these activities. Nine referees who were ranked in the top 20 referees in England were videotaped during a total of 19 matches. During playback of the videotapes, a single observer coded the referees' activities into one of six distinct categories (standing, walking forwards, walking backwards, jogging, running and sprinting) using a computerized video editing system (Observer Video-Pro). The referees were timed over a 20 m distance for the modes of locomotory activity, and the average velocity of the referee for each activity was used to calculate the total distance covered in each mode of activity during matches. The total distance covered during a match was ( ± SD) 8581 ± 668 m. The mean percentage of total playing time spent in each activity was: standing still, 37.0 ± 11.0%; walking forward, 29.5 ± 7.2%; walking backward, 9.9 ± 3.2%; jogging, 12.8 ± 3.2%; running, 9.8 ± 2.3%; and sprinting, 1.0 ± 0.4%. There were a total of 672 transitions between modes of activity during a match. The results of this study suggest that refereeing top English rugby football union matches is physically demanding. Although the major physiological load is placed on the oxygen transport system, frequent sprint bouts and the associated requirements for acceleration and deceleration impose additional metabolic demands on referees. This information may be used in the design of physical training programmes to optimize performance in referees.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 10, 2001

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