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Mon, 14 Jan 2019

World Rugby Unveils Plan to Further Mitigate Risk of Injury

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

The plan is centred on detailed research and 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 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% of match injuries and 73% 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.

Player receives medical attention at the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2018. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

 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 adopt the Activate injury-prevention warm-up programme developed by the RFU and University of Bath, which has demonstrated a 60% reduction in adult concussions and a 70% injury reduction at youth community level when used three times or more a week.

 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).

Player being stretchered off after receiving medical attention on the pitch at the Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2018. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

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, which is testament to the injury-management programmes implemented across the game. However, we continually strive for improvement, and with the full support of our unions and their respective clubs, we can make further preventative advances, particularly in the area of training load management, which is a key contributor to match injuries. Our major focus is the tackle, which is the most common facet of the game, and this year we will complete the initial analysis on the reduced tackle height trials. We are also hosting a wide-ranging laws forum in Paris in March, with a focus on injury-prevention and how evaluation and evolution of the laws might positively impact this area within the next four-year laws review cycle."

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.

World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery said, "While the number of rucks and ball in play time has increased over the past five years, the overall global incidence of injury has not increased, which means that the sport's medical standards and injury-prevention programmes in elite adult rugby are having a positive impact. As a sport, we are continuing to drive evidence-based interventions to further reduce that injury risk and this should begin with training load management. Training accounts for approximately 90 per cent of all player load and is a significant contributor to match injuries, particularly non-contact injuries (35 per cent of all injuries). Behavioural change is required in the understanding and management of individual player load and we will be launching research-based player load guidance in partnership with International Rugby Players this year. We will also continue to focus on changing player behaviour in the tackle to reduce risk. The tackle trials continue and will provide important data for us to analyse and make recommendations to the Rugby Committee. The initial feedback on the trials, particularly the high tackle warning system which operated at the World Rugby U20 Championship, has been very encouraging, but we need to see a full set of data before drawing conclusions."

New Alterations to Laws of the Game

Meanwhile, the World Rugby Executive Committee has approved to adopt the revised Television Match Official (TMO) protocol into Law 6.16. This operated as a trial in the November window with the aim of reducing time impact and placing greater decision- making responsibility on the referee.

Law 15 (Ruck): The Executive Committee has also approved amendments to Law 15.4 to further clarify the laws regarding offside lines at the tackle and ruck.

These changes have immediate effect, with the exception of the revised TMO protocol which should be adopted for all competitions which commence after 1 January, 2019. This includes Super Rugby, the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup. Competitions that are already underway may continue under the old protocol until the current competition concludes. If these competitions wish to adopt the revised protocol now, they can do so.

Rugby pictures: Pictures from 2019 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2018 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2017 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures from 2016 Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens, Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2015, Pictures of the Asia Rugby Sevens Olympic Games Qualifier in Hong Kong, Pictures of Singha Thailand Sevens 2015, Pictures from the 2013 British & Irish Lions Tour in Hong Kong, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2014, Pictures of Hong Kong Sevens 2013, Pictures of Chartis Cup 2012 and Pictures of Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens 2012.

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