• World Rugby committed to research-guided advances in player welfare standards
  • Research projects in player welfare key priority areas can apply for World Rugby funding
  • £750,000 committed to independent research since 2015
  • Transgender participation and injury trends in the women's game added as priority topic areas for research funding
  • Applications must be submitted via World Rugby’s research funding portal

World Rugby has launched its annual call for applications to fund research projects with the aim of promoting evidence-based enhancements in player welfare priority areas, including concussion.

Supporting its ambition to make the game as accessible to the widest-possible participation base, the international federation is committed to progressing player welfare standards guided by scientific research. Since 2015, World Rugby has awarded more than £750,000 to fund bespoke research projects by independent bodies, helping to advance its evidence-based approach to injury prevention, management and education.

Some recent examples of projects that World Rugby have committed to funding include:

  • The health benefits and impact of playing high-level rugby
  • Concussion attitudes and prevention practices in developing rugby nations
  • Injury risks and efficacy of preventive strategies in mixed-ability rugby
  • Injury surveillance in community adult and youth rugby
  • Sources of off-season psychological and physical recovery in professional rugby players
  • Implementation effectiveness of a concussion management pathway in community rugby

For 2021 application cycle, World Rugby are particularly interested to receive proposals for research related to the following player welfare priority areas:

  • Concussion
  • Transgender Participation
  • Injury Surveillance and Prevention
  • Injury trends in the women’s game
  • Anti-doping
  • Playing surfaces

World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont said: “As a rugby father and former player, I am personally committed to growing the science available so that we can continue to shape our approach to safeguard the wellbeing of our players.

“Research-guided advancements remain central to our approach to player welfare and we are proud to support this crucial area of our game with significant investment. New evidence will help us inform our decision-making and eventually benefit rugby players at all levels of the game.”

World Rugby Head of Technical Services Mark Harrington added: “We are continually exploring every available avenue to enhance our player welfare standards with the wellbeing of rugby players remaining our number-one priority. The research community can play a vital role in informing and shaping the future of the game and this ambitious funding programme represents an excellent opportunity to support independent bodies whose findings will benefit the sport at all levels.”

Application guidance

Interested applicants can submit their project on World Rugby’s online portal between 1 February and 30 April 2021. They can track progress of their proposal throughout the review process undertaken by independent experts. Only proposals falling under World Rugby’s player welfare priority areas will be considered for the current funding cycle.


Particular interest in transgender participation research

Following approval of updated transgender participation guidelines in October 2020, World Rugby remain committed to funding and supporting more rugby-specific transgender research to further inform player welfare. To reinforce this commitment, the topic of transgender participation has been added to the list of priority topic areas for research funding, which includes concussion, injury trends and prevention, anti-doping, and playing surfaces.