World Rugby Sets Plan To Mitigate Risk Of Injury

World Rugby has set out its 2019 plan to mitigate the risk of injury in the sport, beginning with a dedicated laws forum in March. Building up towards World Rugby’s
18 Jan 2019 18:34
World Rugby Sets Plan To Mitigate Risk Of Injury
Dominiko Waqaniburotu (second from left) tip tackles Jonny May in the opening match of the Rugby World Cup 2015.

World Rugby has set out its 2019 plan to mitigate the risk of injury in the sport, beginning with a dedicated laws forum in March.

Building up towards World Rugby’s main event the Rugby World Cup 2019 the focus areas build on significant progress in the management of injuries, particularly concussion, (the latest Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project for the English elite game published this week demonstrates a 14.3 per cent drop in concussion incidence in line with other elite competitions) and reflect the international federation’s continued commitment to making the game as safe and simple to play as possible.

The plan is centered on detailed research to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the causes of injury, both in a match and training environment, as well as a sustained and aligned approach to the implementation of prevention strategies across the game, from administrators, coaches, players and medics to referees. Approved by Council in November 2018, it focuses on five key pillars:


Law review

World Rugby, in collaboration with its unions and player representatives, will host a dedicated injury prevention laws review forum in Paris in March, kicking off the quadrennial laws review cycle. With the tackle responsible for up to 50 per cent of match injuries and 73 per cent of concussions in elite rugby, stakeholders will review the latest global injury surveillance data and consider the three-phase* approach to lowering the tackle height, while being encouraged to table suggestions for innovative and robust injury-prevention via possible law alteration.


Training load

Any player competing at Rugby World Cup 2019 must have a ‘load passport’ to encourage best-practice training load management between club and country environments (approved by the World Rugby Council in November 2018 and presented to tier one coaches), while all unions are encouraged to optimally manage load between club and national team environments based on published best-practice and guidance.

Injury surveillance

Under the revised premium standards for elite competitions approved by the World Rugby Executive Committee in September from 1 January, 2019 any competition applying to operate the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) process must now: a) undertake detailed injury surveillance in line with World Rugby standards to create one comprehensive annual set of comparable and definitive global data, b) operate a Match Day Doctor at every match, c) implement minimum video review standards and d) enable World Rugby representation on any HIA review panel.

Game preparation: Unions encouraged to universally adopt the Activate injury-prevention warm-up programme developed by the RFU and University of Bath, which has demonstrated a 50 per cent reduction in concussions and a 40 per cent injury reduction at community level when used three times or more a week (more info here).


Tackle education

All unions encouraged to ensure professional environments provide comprehensive training to all young professional players in best-practice tackling techniques as educated within community rugby programmes such as Rugby Ready. (The FFR announced in December 2018 that they will host seminars with all professional clubs in France).

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “World Rugby, working in partnership with unions and leading independent experts, continues to be committed to making the sport as simple and safe as possible for all, reflected within our ongoing global injury-prevention strategy.

“Much progress has been made, particularly in the priority area of concussion.

While player safety is rightly an emotive topic, it is important to note that globally injury incidence has not increased, which is testament to the injury-management programmes implemented across the game.

“However, we continually strive for enhancement, and with the full support of our unions and their respective clubs, we can make further advances, particularly in the area of training load management, which is a key contributor to match injuries.

The focus areas are central to World Rugby’s continued prioritisation of player welfare, driven by the annual Medical Commission Conference, which brings together union medics, player representatives and leading independent medical experts to review the latest data and trends and identify new evidence-based areas of injury-prevention focus.

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