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New Research Tackles Safety Issue In Rugby

A new study monitoring the Lincoln University Rams premier rugby men’s side over a season found surprisingly few injuries from tackling.

Profiling the tackle and its injury characteristics in premier New Zealand club rugby union players over a complete season*, recently published in the prestigious British Journal of Sports Medicine, included Lincoln University’s Professor Mike Hamlin and Sohei Takamori (team doctor for the Brave Blossoms- Japan Men’s National Rugby Team) among its co-authors.

It followed 28 Rams players over 18 matches in the 2017 rugby season.

The study’s objective was to identify whether New Zealand Rugby’s “RugbySmart”- safe tackle technique was exhibited by club rugby players and whether tackle-related injuries showed poor tackle technique characteristics.

Professor Hamlin said that one of the most interesting results of the study was the very low injury rates attributed to the tackle which worked out to be approximately two injuries per 1000 tackles made over the whole season, which is far lower than previous reports.

“This may have been due to the high calibre of players used in this study (all playing for the Lincoln University Rams Div 1 Team) and their prior experience and knowledge of tackling.

“A major emphasis of the coaching staff on safety during training was also probably a factor in the low injury rates.”

The research showed that forwards complete more tackles than backs and tackles using the shoulder are the most prevalent type of tackle.

It found only 57.9% of tackles during the season demonstrated currently prescribed good tackle technique.

Two of the six tackle-related injuries occurred despite the RugbySmart reported tackle characteristics being performed.

However, in all six injuries recorded over the season, the front foot was grounded and close to the ball-carrier which is one of the characteristics of the desired tackle technique as promoted by RugbySmart, and yet resulted in injury.

It concluded further research is needed to confirm which tackling techniques are less likely to result in injury.

*Https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2022/01/17/bjsports-2021-104868

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