No rest for ref as World Cup looms on hori­zon

Llanelli Star - - LETTERS - An­thony Wool­ford

GWENDRAETH Val­ley hero Nigel Owens has opened up on the fit­ness test­ing the 12 World Cup ref­er­ees will un­dergo this sum­mer.

The ref­er­ees face some stern tests to make sure they are fit enough for the Japan tour­na­ment.

While Alun Wyn Jones and his Welsh Grand Slam-win­ning squad sweat it out at train­ing camps in the Swiss Alps and Tur­key, the World Cup of­fi­cials will have their own All Blacks-style en­durance ex­am­i­na­tion.

Wales’s 2015 World Cup fi­nal ref­eree will join the likes of Wayne Barnes, Jerome Garces and Ro­main Poite in un­der­go­ing yo-yo tests.

The tests are sim­i­lar to the bleep test and a stamina gauge used by the New Zealand rugby team.

Mr Owens, from Myny­d­d­cer­rig, only drew the cur­tain on the 2018/19 sea­son on Sun­day when tak­ing charge of the Eng­land XV vic­tory over the Bar­bar­ians at Twick­en­ham. And he re­vealed the World Cup refs now face their fit­ness exam in the next six weeks be­fore prepa­ra­tions for Japan ramp up in earnest.

He told the Brian Moore Full Con­tact pod­cast: “We have a three or four-day World Cup ref­er­ees camp in July out in Japan, but we’ve got fit­ness test­ing to be done in the next six weeks. The yo-yo test­ing is seen as more game re­lated given you have walk­ing re­cov­ery pe­ri­ods be­fore you go again. That’s what we’re go­ing to have to do lead­ing into the World Cup. I’ll try my best (to pass them) but it’s get­ting harder at my age.”

It means one of the top ref­er­ees in the global game will have lit­tle time to re­lax this sum­mer be­fore head­ing off to what is set to be his World Cup swan­song.

“I’m go­ing to have a week’s down­time but I’ll also need to keep train­ing be­cause we’re back up and run­ning in five or six weeks’ time,” he added.

“There’s very, very lit­tle down­time for the ref­er­ees. I just fin­ished on Sun­day and a lot of the play­ers fin­ished on the week­end as well. My next game will be when I fly out to Fiji on July 27 or 28 to ref­eree them for two weeks. Then I go to ref­eree France-Scot­land in Paris, then I go up to Ed­in­burgh to run the touch­line for Scot­landFrance. Then 10 days after that I will be fly­ing out to the World Cup.”

The yo-yo test was de­vel­oped by Dan­ish foot­ball phys­i­ol­o­gist Jens Bangsbo and in­volves be­gin­ners and ad­vanced lev­els. The 12 ref­er­ees will be re­quired to run be­tween two cones, each 20 me­tres apart. How­ever, the yo-yo builds in a 10 sec­ond rest after the re­turn 20 me­tre run.

Just like the bleep test, the speed at which the 2x20 me­tre runs must be com­pleted in­creases pro­gres­sively, too, un­til the par­tic­i­pant can no longer com­plete the runs or chooses to stop.

The World Rugby stan­dard for ref­er­ees in the yo-yo tests back in 2017 was 18.1 which equates to get­ting through a high in­ten­sity 80 min­utes of rugby, with some gas left in the tank.

Ref­er­ees are said to cover 6.8km of ground on av­er­age dur­ing a game with 1.5km of that run at high in­ten­sity speeds.

Mr Owens has been se­lected to of­fi­ci­ate at his fourth con­sec­u­tive Rugby World Cup. The 47-year-old is one of 12 ref­er­ees cho­sen to take charge of matches at this au­tumn’s global tour­na­ment.

Speak­ing last month, he said gain­ing se­lec­tion for the tour­na­ment was a big goal for him and he would then de­cide after the com­pe­ti­tion how much longer to con­tinue ref­er­ee­ing be­fore re­tir­ing.

Dar­ren Grif­fiths/ Huw Evans Agency

Nigel Owens is get­ting ready for the Rugby World Cup.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.