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The Match Demands of Australian Rules Football Umpires in a State-Base Competition

Nathan Elsworthy and Ben J. Dascombe


The main purpose of the present study was to quantify the match running demands and physiological intensities of AF field and boundary umpires during match play.


Thirty-five AF umpires [20 field (age: 24.7 ± 7.7 y, body mass: 74.3 ± 7.1 kg, Σ7 skinfolds: 67.8 ± 18.8 mm); 15 boundary (age: 29.6 ± 13.6 y, body mass: 71.9 ± 3.1 kg, Σ7 skinfolds: 65.6 ± 8.8 mm)] volunteered to participate in the study. Movement characteristics [total distance (TD), average running speed, high-intensity activity (HIA; >14.4 km·h–1) distance] and physiological measures [heart rate, blood lactate concentration ([BLa–]), and rating of perceived exertion] were collected during 20 state-based AF matches.


The mean (± SD) TD covered by field umpires was 11,492 ± 1,729 m, with boundary umpires covering 15,061 ± 1,749 m. The average running speed in field umpires was 103 ± 14 m·min-1, and was 134 ± 14 m·min-1 in boundary umpires. Field and boundary umpires covered 3,095 ± 752 m and 5,875 ± 1,590 m, during HIA, respectively. In the first quarter, HIA distance (field: P = .004, η2 = 0.071, boundary: P < .001, η2 = 0.180) and average running speed (field: P = .002, η2 = 0.078, boundary: P < .001, η2 = 0.191) were significantly greater than in subsequent quarters.


The results demonstrate that both AF field and boundary umpires complete similar running demands to elite AF players and are subject to physical fatigue. Further research is warranted to see if this physical fatigue impacts on the cognitive function of AF umpires during match play.

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Effect of Match Schedule Density on Self-Reported Wellness and Sleep in Referees During the Rugby World Cup

Nathan Elsworthy, Michele Lastella, Aaron T. Scanlan, and Matthew R. Blair

Purpose : To examine the effect of match schedule on self-reported wellness and sleep in rugby union referees during the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Methods : Following an observational design, 18 international-level male referees participating in the 2019 Rugby World Cup completed a daily questionnaire to quantify wellness status (sleep quality, mood, stress, fatigue, muscle soreness, and total wellness) and sleep characteristics (bedtime, wake-up time, and time in bed) from the previous night across the tournament. Linear mixed models and effect sizes (Hedges g av) assessed differences in wellness and sleep characteristics between prematch and postmatch days surrounding single-game and 2-game congested match schedules (prematch1, postmatch1, prematch2, and postmatch2 days). Results: During regular schedules, all self-reported wellness variables except stress were reduced (g av = 0.33–1.05, mean difference −0.32 to −1.21 arbitrary units [AU]) and referees went to bed later (1.08, 1:07 h:min) and spent less time in bed (−0.78, 00:55 h:min) postmatch compared with prematch days. During congested schedules, only wellness variables differed across days, with total wellness reduced on postmatch1 (−0.88, −3.56 AU) and postmatch2 (−0.67, −2.70 AU) days, as well as mood (−1.01, −0.56 AU) and fatigue (−0.90, −1.11 AU) reduced on postmatch1 days compared with prematch days. Conclusion: Referees were susceptible to acute reductions in wellness on days following matches regardless of schedule. However, only single-game regular match schedules negatively impacted the sleep characteristics of referees. Targeted strategies to maximize wellness status and sleep opportunities in referees considering the match schedule faced should be explored during future Rugby World Cup competitions.

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Physical and Physiological Demands of Elite Rugby Union Officials

Matthew R. Blair, Nathan Elsworthy, Nancy J. Rehrer, Chris Button, and Nicholas D. Gill

Purpose: To examine the movement and physiological demands of rugby union officiating in elite competition. Methods: Movement demands of 9 elite officials across 12 Super Rugby matches were calculated, using global positioning system devices. Total distance (in m), relative distance (in m·min−1), and percentage time spent in various speed zones were calculated across a match. Heart-rate (HR) responses were also recorded throughout each match. Cohen d effect sizes were reported to examine the within-match variations. Results: The total distance covered was 8030 (506) m, with a relative distance of 83 (5) m·min−1 and with no differences observed between halves. Most game time was spent at lower movement speeds (76% [2%]; <2.0 m·s−1), with large effects for time spent >7.0 m·s−1 between halves (d = 2.85). Mean HR was 154 (10) beats·min−1 (83.8 [2.9]%HRmax), with no differences observed between the first and second halves. Most game time was spent between 81%HRmax and 90%HRmax (40.5% [7.5%]) with no observable differences between halves. Distances covered above 5.1 m·s−1 were highest during the first 10 min of a match, while distance at speeds 3.7 to 5 m·s−1 decreased during the final 10 min of play. Conclusions: These findings highlight the highly demanding and intermittent nature of rugby union officiating, with only some minor variations in physical and physiological demands across a match. These results have implications for the physical preparation of professional rugby union referees.

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The Isometric Midthigh Pull in Basketball: An Effective Predictor of Sprint and Jump Performance in Male, Adolescent Players

Aaron T. Scanlan, Neal Wen, Joshua H. Guy, Nathan Elsworthy, Michele Lastella, David B. Pyne, Daniele Conte, and Vincent J. Dalbo

Purpose: To examine correlations between peak force and impulse measures attained during the isometric midthigh pull (IMTP) and basketball-specific sprint and jump tests. Methods: Male, adolescent basketball players (N = 24) completed a battery of basketball-specific performance tests. Testing consisted of the IMTP (absolute and normalized peak force and impulse at 100 and 250 ms); 20-m sprint (time across 5, 10, and 20 m); countermovement jump (CMJ; absolute and normalized peak force and jump height); standing long jump (distance); and repeated lateral bound (distance). Correlation and regression analyses were conducted between IMTP measures and other attributes. Results: An almost perfect correlation was evident between absolute peak force attained during the IMTP and CMJ (r = .94, R 2 = 56%, P < .05). Moderate to very large correlations (P < .05) were observed between IMTP normalized peak force and 5-m sprint time (r = −.44, R 2 = 19%), 10-m sprint time (r = −.45, R 2 = 20%), absolute (r = .57, R 2 = 33%), normalized (r = .86, R 2 = 73%) CMJ peak force, and standing long-jump distance (r = .51, R 2 = 26%). Moderate to very large correlations were evident between impulse measures during the IMTP and 5-m sprint time (100 ms, r = −.40, R 2 = 16%, P > .05) and CMJ absolute peak force (100 ms, r = .73, R 2 = 54%; 250 ms, r = .68, R 2 = 47%; P < .05). Conclusions: The IMTP may be used to assess maximal and rapid force expression important across a range of basketball-specific movements.