Alex Reid: Match official fitness for prehab and rehab   - Ruck

Alex Reid: Match official fitness for prehab and rehab  

The world class match official fitness series 

Along with our partners at ACME Whistles we spoke to the RFU’s Match Official Strength & Conditioning Coach, Alex Reid, about injury prevention and the importance strength and conditioning work plays for match officials. Alex said: 

“For me, injury prevention is probably the priority for the work I do with the RFU match officials, because if you’ve got the best referees in the world but they’re injured all the time, that’s no good for anyone.  

“So my philosophy is around body protection. Robustness is key. 

“My job is to allow the selectors at England rugby, then the selectors within the European competitions and then the selectors at World Rugby, to have access to the best match official’s week in, week out whenever they need them. 

“That means that a lot of the work we do is aiming to develop body protection and robustness, and then we bolt on the performance side.  

“On top of that I think about conditioning as a pyramid. So we’ve got the base of the pyramid where we need that robustness of strength, hamstrings, calves. We need that hip strength, mobility, glutes.  

“We need all of that in place before we can build on performance.  

“During covid there was a big challenge of remote loading and support, we put a plan in place, provided all the FT match officials with dumbbells, weight plates, barbells, and they continued to load during lockdown.   They all received a graduated return to play plan when we had a return to rugby and every one of them returned successfully as far as their physical return with no injuries.  This off-load and re-load phase was a challenge, you only need to look at data from the NFL as an example to see how many Achilles tendon ruptures they had with a return to football after their strike action a few seasons ago, so loading the group regularly and making sure they understand why is very important to me.  

“I’m very research and evidence based and get them to work hard on and off season.  I prescribe rest as well as work. 

“I say to the group ‘you might not like what we’re doing, but it’s not my job to make you like what we’re doing. My job is to allow you to be fit for selection’. And that’s what I try and do.  

“They buy in to the plan and I can only be really proud that.” 

In the next feature of the series, Alex takes us through how referees starting out can develop their match official fitness 

To find out more about refereeing and get your first referee’s whistle, visit