- International federation makes call for research applications to add to extensive knowledge on artificial surfaces
- Focus of new grants will be on player welfare and in particular impacts of using different surfaces across a season as well as footwear
- World Rugby to also look at the social and economic impact of using artificial surfaces in rugby.
World Rugby is calling for research grant applications to help broaden understanding about the impact of the use of artificial surfaces at all levels of the sport.
Artificial surfaces are a feature of both the elite and community games, facilitating accessibility to rugby on a global basis with production and testing subject to rigorous standards.
The new research fund will enable the international federation to focus on a further three key areas:
- The impact on players of playing on a mixture of artificial and natural surfaces across a season
- How boots and other footwear interact with artificial surfaces
- The economic and social impact of the standards World Rugby requires for use of artificial turf within rugby
This new research fund is in addition to existing studies into artificial turf, funded by World Rugby, that are already in place. In 2020, World Rugby partnered with the University of Cardiff and Sports Labs to commission research into better tests for reducing skin abrasions. The findings of this work are expected to be published later this year.
World Rugby regulations already require some of the highest standards for artificial surfaces in international sport and for pitches to be specifically designed for playing rugby. The international federation already works closely with preferred turf producers (PTPs), accredited test institutes (ATIs), member unions and player’s associations to ensure that playing on artificial surfaces represents no greater risk than a match played on natural grass.
Applicants are asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest, and to include a short one-paragraph summary of their proposed project and the relevant subject area. The deadline for submitting project plans is 26th August 2022.
The new research fund supports the delivery of World Rugby’s six point plan to make rugby the most progressive sport in the world on player welfare. Innovation led by science and research is a key pillar of that plan with the results of successful research application further informing the way in which the sport moves forward on player welfare.
Speaking about the call for research applications, World Rugby Game Research and Development Manager Marc Douglas said: “World Rugby will always make the welfare of players our number one priority and we never stand still in this area. That is as true of our work on artificial surfaces as it is in all other areas of rugby.
“Through these research grants we’re looking to better understand how to support players across a season playing on a mixture of surfaces and how boots might need to change to reduce injury. We also know that artificial surfaces will be key to growing rugby across the world. We want to better understand how World Rugby can ensure that our regulations make artificial surfaces just as safe as grass but at the same time don’t put up insurmountable barriers to those countries around the world who rely on artificial turf to grow the game.”