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Lawrence McDonell 10-07-2010 04:18 AM

Program Advice for Rugby Referee
Hi all
First post. I have been a long time lurker on these forums and know that any feedback is pretty solid. I am looking for some fresh eyes to go over the demands of my chosen sport and see what suggestions you would have for a program to maximise performance. As a background my stats are:
Height: 5’11 (180cm) Weight: 167lb (76kg) Age:28 Squat: 275lb (125kg) Dead: 330lb (150kg) Press: 137.5 (62.5kg)
Beep Test: 13.3 Yo-yo Beep Test: 18.6 12x25m shuttle (300m): 1:02
Flying 30m Sprint: 3.47sec
I am basically an umpire/referee for Rugby League which for those who are not sure is a version of Rugby only a bit quicker. The following are some stats from some fellow referees that will give you an idea of the demands of a typical game:
80min games divided into 2x40min halves. Referees will typically cover approx. 7-8km over the course of the game. Heart rate will average approx. 85% of max with periods of recovery down to about 70% and short bursts of effort up to 95%. Avg speed is relatively low about 6-8km per hour but running is multi directional, a lot of backwards running and sliding and there is a lot of talking on the move which saps the juice.
A typical in season week goes like:
Monday- Weights Tuesday- intervals/sprints/endurance Wednesday- Rest/Rehab
Thursday- Short intervals followed by skills Friday- Rest Saturday- Game Sunday- Game
It is now my off season for approx. 6 weeks before cycling into pre-season training.
So what if anything would you be doing if you were to train me… suggestions..? More info needed?
Also what would you be emphasising during my offseason/preseason.

Jarod Barker 10-07-2010 05:42 PM

Just curious, what kind of sprint work are you doing? Distances?

I had an athlete 2 summers ago who was preparing for his first season of college ball, and we did 80 yd sprints. Used sleds, dragging and pushing, weight vests, various start positions such as laying prone, facing the opposite direction, etc. I'll be honest, I have no idea how big a rugby field even is, but if it's anything like football, the distances are usually short but very intense. You would obviously benefit from something that mimics the demands like intervals that match the rate of play. How much time is there between plays?

Derek Weaver 10-07-2010 06:00 PM

I would suggest something like this:
6 weeks of lifting 3x/week. Condition enough that you don't suck wind as preseason training picks up.

Once preseason starts, scale lifting back to 2x/week, up the conditioning.

Otherwise, you're fine if you can keep up with the flow of the game. Rugby referees need more overall endurance than anything. My coach in high school was on the short list to be one of the first US refs to ref at the World Cup. Don't know if it ever happened for him. Granted, this was Rugby Union, which is a bit different than League.

He stayed strong, did a ton of tempo work and ran drills and skill work with us in practice. He maintained a base level of conditioning with a few longer distance runs per week to build that base of work capacity and was good.

I only know this because I spent my off season with a few teammates running with him after school at the track several days per week.

Rugby has a more consistent flow than American football does. Even the stops are relatively short.

I guess the real question is.... How have you felt in the past? Do you feel like you're falling behind or do you feel relatively good after games?

Lawrence McDonell 10-10-2010 04:46 PM


Just curious, what kind of sprint work are you doing? Distances?
Chad Rugby League Field is basically the same size i think... approx. 100m x 65m.
Most of our sprint work is over about 40-60m with some occasional longer stuff. Generally when we want to do intervals for conditioning purposes we will use similar distances but as shuttles with timed recoveries for example: 40m < 7sec with 21sec to cover the remaining 60m for 10 reps. or 60m up and back in <22sec with 1:1 recoveries for 6- 8 reps etc.


I guess the real question is.... How have you felt in the past? Do you feel like you're falling behind or do you feel relatively good after games?
Derek thanks for feed back. Look i generally feel good and am usually at the pointy end of our squad. I guess i am at the point where i have an opportunity to make this into full time job (in the coming years) and i am really looking for an edge. All of our squad trains to the same basic template... I am looking to add or take away the things that will help make my performance dominant. Rather than be in the top three or four guys make me the top guy.

Jarod Barker 10-10-2010 05:44 PM

I'd have to see you run to decide if you actually need this, but increasing your cadence/turn over really helps in increasing short distance speed. I had a running back who was preparing for the NFL combine, and I got his 40 time 2 tenths of a second after simply explaining to him to work on increasing his cadence. He was a great 800m runner to begin with, so I can't take credit for his natural ability, but after I directed his focus towards increasing his foot speed rather than pushing off harder, he made great progress in just 2 months. Unfortunately, his hamstring tore from a car accident... but simply incredible to see an athlete work at that level.

As for the college player, working his power clean turned out to be the fix. He was just too slow off the line, and took too long to get moving. Running with resistance really improved his speed.

I like your sprint intervals. I had my college player sprint short distances and jog or walk back to simulate the pace of a hurry up offense. I think you're on the right track, but if you're good at self coaching, you may want to consider either working on increasing your cadence or adding resistance.

A good running coach is very hard to find, but invaluable if you know one.

Lawrence McDonell 10-10-2010 06:03 PM


Good advice. I actually identified my technique as an area for improvement this season as i noticed that off a standing sprint i am quick enough BUT the longer the distance gets the closer back to the field i come. Also that my flying 30m time is actually quite similar to some others in my squad whom i have easily covered from a standing start. I also have a long torso and short legs so i am never going to be an outstanding sprinter though i have always been better than avg. (PB in my early 20's of 11.1 over 100m)

I will endeavour to post a vid of running in the next week or two and get some feedback on that front. With this in mind it is just as important that i have multi directional speed in my sport so if anyone has any good ideas in terms of improving agility and direction change i would be interested.

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