What Qualities do I need to be fit to referee?

Fitness can be defined in many different ways, depending on the individual and the context in which it is being described. However, what we can say for sure is that fitness can be defined much more specifically for an individual sport or activity. Definitions that you may have heard may include:
• The ability to perform a physical task.
• The ability to cope effectively with the stresses of everyday life.
• A measure of the body’s strength, stamina, and flexibility.
• Looking and feeling good.
• The ability to excel at a task, exercise, event, or test.
• Total fitness – Striving for optimal quality of life including social, mental, spiritual, and physical components. Also called wellness, or positive health.
• Performance – Ability to perform a task or sport at a desired level. Also called motor fitness, or physical fitness.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and I am sure that the majority could give a reasonable definition if we were questioned on the subject. However, something that is common among any definition is that it will mention several different qualities (e.g. strength). These qualities are generally accepted as The Components of Fitness.

It is vitally important, that when planning your fitness programme that you take time to consider the activity for which you are training. We have all been guilty at some point of going out a couple of times a week, at a constant pace, for an extended period of time. Of course, this type of training can be beneficial in moderation, as part of an overall fitness programme for health. It covers all of the components that were highlighted earlier. However, on it’s own, the physiological benefits for rugby refereeing are minimal.

Warm Up

Warming up is an essential part of preparation for both training and match days. The benefits of warming up include:
• Increased speed of contraction and relaxation of warmed muscles
• Reduce muscle stiffness
• Greater economy of movement
• Increased blood flow through active muscle tissues
• Allows the heart rate to get to a workable rate for beginning exercise
• Mentally focused on the training or competition
A warm up should include 3 main stages:
• General Warm-up (3-5 minutes). This should consist of a gentle and constant paced jog (or similar exercise) to raise the heart rate and blood flow around the body.

• Dynamic Stretching (5 minutes). This essentially stretching on the move. We stretch in this way when warming up, at it replicates the types of movement that we make in matches. You can see examples of dynamic stretching later on in this section.

• Specific Warm-Up. (3-5 minutes). The final part of the warm-up should prepare you for
‘match speed’ activity. This should involve some maximum effort sprinting and raise your heart rate to approximately 85-90% of its maximum.

Fitness Sessions

Below are fitness sessions, fact sheets and other information for ARLB referees to help you reach your fitness goals for this season.

Fitness sessions are broken into 3 categories.

Endurance sessions focus on improving speed endurance and are ideally used in pre-season or during gaps in the season where referees want to improve base fitness.

Speed sessions focus on speed, acceleration and running dynamics. When doing these sessions you should focus on form and maximum effort for each sprint drill.

General sessions focus on overall fitness with speed, endurance and skills sections in each. Skill drills focus on general movement and game specific areas.

Each exercise has 5 levels and referees should attempt to move up to level 5. New programs will be uploaded at regular intervals so keep checking back.

If you have any questions or want to see something new contact Paul Haycock at or 087 9219724


Endurance sessions


General sessions




Speed sessions