World Rugby calls for 2024 player welfare research funding applications

World Rugby has today launched its 2024 call for applications to fund player welfare research projects. Research funded by World Rugby, including the ground-breaking ORCHID study first published last year, has seen the game benefit from a broad breadth of sport specific research into player welfare.

The international federation is committed to funding rugby specific medical and scientific research as part of its six-point plan on player welfare to make the sport the most progressive in the world in this area

Since 2015, World Rugby has awarded more than £1.5 million to fund bespoke research projects by independent bodies, helping to advance its evidence-based approach to injury prevention, management and education.  A further £2 million has been spent funding technological advancements, first used in player welfare research such as smart mouthguards.

 The topics where World Rugby is most interested in supporting research are:  

  • Concussion 
  • Injury surveillance and prevention at all levels of the game 
  • Player welfare research in women’s rugby 
  • Transgender participation 
  • Anti-doping 
  • Mental health and substance abuse 
  • Long-term health consequences of rugby participation 

World Rugby also invites tenders for more targeted projects identified by its medical working groups as priorities for research. Calls for tender for these projects will be publicised as they are identified. 

Applications for funding can be made via World Rugby’s funding application portal and must be received by 12 April to be considered for the 2024 cycle. Interested applicants should review the guidance provided on applying to World Rugby for funding here.   

Applicants should prepare a concise and detailed proposal to submit as an initial application. Complete applications are sent for review by independent academic experts that form World Rugby’s Scientific Committee. The Scientific Committee will consider several factors when assessing initial applications, such as scientific merit and ability to advance World Rugby’s player welfare mandates. Initial Applications that receive a favourable review will be asked to submit a more detailed project plan later in the year, and final decisions on funding awards will be confirmed at the end of 2024. 

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “2023 saw some of the most ground-breaking World Rugby research ever undertaken, independently peer-reviewed and published. The first papers from the likes of the ORCHID study have already changed our understanding of the game and are the perfect example of why World Rugby is taking the lead in funding vital player welfare research.

“I would encourage any academic or group of academics with ambitions of conducting rugby specific research to consider applying for our research grants. World Rugby is the largest funder of research of this type and we need independent research to continue to advance our understanding and make rugby as safe as possible for all participants.”