Movement and Physiological Demands of Australasian National Rugby League Referees

Amy Brightmore, John O'Hara, Kevin Till, Steve Cobley, Tate Hubka, Stacey Emmonds, Carlton Cooke

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    9 Citations (Scopus)
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    PURPOSE: To evaluate the movement and physiological demands of the Australasian National Rugby League (NRL) referees, officiating with a 'two referee' (i.e., 'lead' and 'pocket') system and to compare the demands of the lead referee and pocket referees.

    METHODS: 10 Hz global positioning system devices were used to obtain 86 data sets ('lead', n=41; 'pocket', n=45) on 19 NRL referees. Total distance, relative distance covered and heart rate per half and across match-play was examined within and between referees using t-tests. Distance, time and number of movement 'efforts' were examined in six velocity classifications (i.e., standing <0.5; walking 0.51-2.0; jogging 2.01-4.0; running 4.01-5.5; high speed running 5.51-7.0; sprinting > 7.0 m.s-1) using ANOVA. Cohen's d effect sizes were reported.

    RESULTS: There were no significant differences between the 'lead' and 'pocket' referee for any movement or physiological variable. There was an overall significant (large; very large) effect for distance (% distance) and time (% time) (P < 0.001) between each velocity classification for both the 'lead' and 'pocket' referee. Both roles covered the largest distance and number of efforts at velocities between 0.51-2.0 m.s-1 and 2.01-4.0 m.s-1, which were interspersed with efforts >5.51 m.s-1.

    CONCLUSIONS: Findings highlight the intermittent nature of rugby league refereeing, but show that there were no differences in the movement and physiological demands of the two refereeing roles. Findings are valuable for those responsible for the preparation, training and conditioning of NRL referees, and to ensure training prepares for and simulates match demands.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1080-1087
    JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
    Issue number8
    Early online date21 Mar 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


    • Match officiating
    • match demands
    • intermittent physical demands
    • heart rate
    • time-motion analysis


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