Always worth a browse in the archives: This has cropped up a few times in the past...
Like this one, for example: April 2012
That said, I didn’t manage to find the discussion where these following studies were linked.
THE DISTANCE COVERED OF SOCCER AND RUGBY REFEREES DURING THE MATCH USING A MOBILE "GPS"
(Sample size 9 soccer refs and 10rugby refs)
The second study has some interesting conclusions
A similar study of 10Top level refs in Spain
(Analysis of 30 matchs in total)
The purpose of this study was to carry out an analysis of the movement and the intensity of activity to which the referees are subjected during a rugby union match. An objective time-motion analysis method (GPS) was used also in conjunction with HR monitoring during the game. This is the first study to characterize the running movement patterns and exercise intensity of referees during rugby union matches using GPS technology. The results of this study showed that during a rugby union match the referees covered 6,323 m, which corresponds to a relative distance of approximately 75 m∙min21. In the only other study to assess the distance travelled by rugby union referees, it was estimated that an average distance of 8,581 m (101 m∙min21) was covered (14). It is possible that such differences may be attributed to the differing playing patterns in the Spanish top division compared with that in the English Premiership. However, direct comparisons between these 2 studies should be made with caution because of the different time motion analysis methods employed, with this study using an objective (GPS) methodology, whereas Martin et al. (14) estimated distance covered using a subjective method. With the same technology used in this study (i.e., GPS), it has been reported that elite male rugby union players covered a total match distance of 6,953m (5), which is in the range of the distance covered by the referees in this study.
The average total distance (±SD) covered by the referees throughout the game (84.9 6 2.9 minutes) was 6,322.2 ± 564.9 m with a range of 5,459–7,426 m. [/LAWS]
The assessment of the external (i.e., running demands) and internal (i.e., HR responses) load imposed during the competition is the first step preceding the design of specific conditioning programs in rugby union referees. Referees’ running performance is reduced throughout the match. Although the causes of this reduction in running performance remains unknown, fitness training of rugby union referees should aim to develop appropriate levels of high-intensity, intermittent running performance to promote fatigue resistance in the final 30 minutes of a game.