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FITNESS. A guide to what is required for match officiating. What is fitness?. The ability to meet the demands of the environment. . What is your environment?. A rugby pitch. What are the demands?. Changing speed and direction. Anticipation. Crowd. Decision making. Players.

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A guide to what is required for match officiating


What is fitness?

The ability to meet the demands of the environment.


What is your environment?

A rugby pitch

What are the demands?

Changing speed and direction



Decision making


Perceptual Awareness



Perceptual Awareness

What do you see?

Young girl?

A donkey?

A seal?

Old woman?

We do not all see things in the same way!


A Dalmatian dog sniffing the ground?

The world upside down

When we know what we are looking for it makes things a lot easier


What do you see?

There is nothing to see as all the squares are equal but we try to “see” things

For a, b and c write down what you see

If a = brush or centipede – male response

If a = comb or teeth - female response

If b = target – male response

If b = dinner plate it is a female response

If c = head - male response

If c = cup - female response


To meet the demands of our environment we have to be fit and so a training regime needs to become part of your life as a match official

You have to be fit to officiate effectively. Once fatigue sets in, you become less accurate and slower in your decision-making. Mistakes are made and your positioning can become erratic. The longer you can delay fatigue the more successful you will be.

The information collected from a Test Match shows what is required of officials during a game


It shows that over 25% of the time officials are working at 80 second a lap (400m) pace

Officials cover between 4-6 miles in a game

For touch judges this will have increased as the movement requirements have changed since this data was collected

So training to pass the 12 minute run should not just be the emphasis of your training


A safe and effective way to see how hard you are working in to use a heart rate monitor

220 – age gives your maximum heart rate

>80% of max HR

60 – 80% of max HR


To see an improvement in fitness the F.I.T.T Principle should be applied

How often do I train?

At least 3 times a week to have an effect



Once you start training the 10 minute run will become easier so you then need to run for longer or faster



How hard do I train?

There are different types of training to improve different areas of fitness – circuits, weights, sprints, agility work, intervals

What kind of training should I do?



This will increase as you get fitter but also depends on what type of training you are doing



How long do I train?


Aerobic work needs to be over 20 minutes in duration.

By going to the gym and working on a number of different exercises for 5 – 10 minutes you can very soon be working for up to 60 minutes


If you feel your fitness levels are not particularly good then you need to start with low intensity aerobic work to get a good solid foundation before you try any more intense type of activity

Circuit training is an excellent activity to improve muscular endurance

Press Ups


Cooper’s 12 minute run

By looking at the statistics from the test match and from matches you have officiated in you realise that you never run continuously for 12 minutes

So why, you might ask, do you have a set target to reach in 12 minutes as part of the fitness test?

Whilst aerobic work is essential to obtain a general fitness level, you must include anaerobic training as part of your training programme to improve fitness levels to higher level.

Interval trainingincludes any type of exercise with bursts of hard activity interspersed with a period of rest.

By breaking up a training session into smaller chunks you can do a greater total amount of work


For example: to complete Academy touch judge distance of 2400m you have to run 6 laps in 2 minutes per lap

Interval session

6 x 400m @ 1 minute 50 seconds pace with a 2 minute rest between runs will overload the body

At first not all 6 will be done in the set time, but if the training is regular this will eventually be achieved

You then either run at 1 minute 45 second pace or reduce the recovery time to 1 minute


Other long interval sessions aiming to run equal to or faster than lap pace

Track sessions

3 x 800m – 2/3 min rest

3 x 1200m – 3 min rest

2 x 1500m 5 min rest

1 x 4 laps, 2 x 3 laps, 3 x 2 laps, 4 x 1 lap – 4,3,2,1 min rest (a killer!!)

Grass sessions

6 x 1 min – 1 min rest

4/5 x 1½ min – 2 min rest

3 x 3 min – 3 min rest

5,4,3,2,1 min run 4,3,2,1 min rest

12 minutes of run 20 seconds walk 10 seconds

Using a rugby pitch run the diagonals, jog behind the try line – 3 x 4 laps

1,2,3,4,3,2,1 laps

Shuttle Runs – put markers 10m apart up to 60m. Work in 2 groups

Run 60m & back –(2nd group does the same)

Run 60m & back then 50m & back (2nd group does the same)

Run 60-50-40

Run 60-50-40-30

Run 60-50-40-30-20

Run 60-50-40-30-20-10

Complete session by running 60-50-40-30-20, 60-50-40-30, 60-50-40, 60-50, 60



Another vital component of match officiating is agility and a lot of time is spent on this area in training.

The definition of agility is:

The ability to change body position and direction quickly and with precision

It is a combination of speed and coordination

Any activity that uses short, quick movements forwards, sideways/crossover and backwards will improve limb speed


Footwork Drill

Place cones no more than 1 metre apart

Person A shouts the colours out in random for 30 -60 seconds

Person B moves to the called colour either forward, backwards or sideways