The crazy distances referees cover in a match
Test centurion Nigel Owens has revealed the staggering distances some referees cover in a match, saying some run “nine, ten, eleven kilometres” throughout a game.
The Welshman was asked on World Rugby’s Whistle Watch this week whether referees use GPS trackers and what distances they cover in a Test match. He confirmed that they do use GPS trackers just like players, and discussed the different distances that are run by older and younger refs. It is no surprise that a referee will need to cover a lot of ground across 80 minutes, but this suggests the officials register more metres than some players would.
Then again, former Harlequins scrum-half and now referee Karl Dickson has previously said that he is aerobically fitter now than he ever was as a player, and Owens’ comments may support that claim.
“In a game, some referees actually run nine, ten, eleven kilometres,” the retired Test referee said.
“I averaged around the seven, seven and a half, sometimes six and a half, sometimes possibly up to eight. But I was around the seven, seven and a half. I think when you get older and more experienced, you don’t need to run everywhere because you can read the game. That’s why you tend to see the more experienced, older referees tend to cover less on the GPS. The younger referees, because they like running, they just run everywhere.”
The objective of many new Laws being introduced is to speed the game up, which therefore requires players to prioritise fitness over size. This increase in the speed of the game would obviously require referees to increase their fitness as well, as they effectively need to be in the vicinity of every ruck in the match, meaning these figures that Owens mentioned may actually increase in the coming years.