World Rugby Introduces New Policy To Reduce Contact Training | Rugby union

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World Rugby will introduce new guidelines aimed at reducing contact training for rugby players. The game’s governing body, which has worked with the International Rugby Players (IRP) representative, hopes a six-point checklist will help reduce training-related injuries and improve performance by reducing the contact stress on players between games is limited.

The guidelines recommend limiting contact training to two days during the week, divided into three categories: 15 minutes of full contact training per week, where players are unbridled in body-to-body collisions and operate at high speed, 40 minutes controlled contact with tackle shields and pads, running at reduced speed and 30 minutes of live set-piece training with lineouts, scrums and muzzles at high intensity.

A global survey of 600 players found that elite professionals did a maximum of 19 minutes of full contact training in the week leading up to a test match. “There’s a misconception that there’s a lot of contact training, but it’s less than you’d think,” said Joe Schmidt, the former Irish coach and now rugby director of World Rugby. “There are 19 minutes at the elite level and 21 minutes at the professional level. We believe that we can reduce it even further. “

“As a professional trainer for 20 years, I’ve found that we have done very little contact training. The number of weeks that I trained in which we did not have full contact in a week were more frequent. “

Former All-Black-Center Conrad Smith, who spoke as the IRP’s Player Welfare Director, agreed: “I have never had a training injury in my entire 15-year season, and I have never seen many training injuries. I never reached those limits, 15 minutes [of contact training] would have been the maximum for me. “

World rugby has come under pressure from lobby groups. Last December, former England and Lions hooker Steve Thompson led a group of retired players in a landmark lawsuit against WR, Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia. The group also published a series of 15 changes to minimize long-term brain injury. The second item on the list was a call for a reduction in contact training, citing the National Football League (NFL), which restricted full contact training as early as 2011. According to Éanna Falvey, WR Chief Medical Officer, this is not a nice comparison because the NFL is played by 32 teams that are easier to regulate. In addition, 70 to 80% of NFL player injuries occur during training, compared to 30 to 40% in rugby.

However, a study published earlier this year by the University of South Wales found that rugby players may experience reductions in brain blood flow and cognitive function due to the cumulative effect of repeated contact rather than single concussions, emphasizing the need to reduce full contact whenever possible .

Even without the guidelines, World Rugby argues that the game is a much safer environment than it was when Thompson played during the first two decades of the professional era. This is less true at lower levels, which is why WR coaches have provided a six-point checklist to better protect their players by identifying and planning the four “elements of contact”. These are the volume of full contact in minutes, the intensity of the collisions, the density of the impacts within the time frame and the unpredictability of the hits.


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