• Annual Medical Commission Conference helps inform the future shape of rugby  
  • Agenda reflects the six pillars of World Rugby’s welfare advancement plan, including former player support, research and education  
  • Independent experts to join rugby medics, players and coaches  

Advances in rugby’s commitment to reduce head impacts including ongoing research projects, game-wide education and laws evolution are at the heart of the programme for the World Rugby Medical Commission Conference hosted on 16-17 November.  

The World Rugby Medical Commission Conference reflects the international federation’s commitment to science, innovation and research, but also the sport’s commitment to engage with the widest range of stakeholders in and around the game.  

The conference invites medics, researchers, sports scientists, players and coaches from around the world to participate in a packed programme of webinars, workshops and discussions aimed at furthering player welfare ‘best practice’ across all 128 member unions and six regional associations, competitions and leagues.  

Underscoring the sport’s unwavering commitment to players – past, present and future – at all levels of the game, the conference agenda has been organised around the six pillars of World Rugby’s plan to cement rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare.  

Day one will be dedicated to science, research, education and laws, largely focusing on the ongoing Otago Rugby Community Head Impact Detection study and University of Ulster research using Prevent Biometrics’ instrumented mouthguard technology as well as an update on the University of Bath substitution study. Injury-prevention via education and culture will be the theme of the second session, featuring programmes such as Tackle Ready and Activate as well as new contact training load guidance.  

A panel discussion on welfare-driven law review and trials featuring leading coaches, players and referees and a discussion on the impact of COVID and supporting players with long COVID completes the opening day.  

Day two begins with the latest advances on women’s welfare, before the launch of a major brain health initiative within a session on former player education and care. The conference will close with a workshop on stakeholder engagement, reflecting World Rugby’s mission to listen, engage and act on the feedback of the rugby family.  

Reflecting the welfare advancement plan’s core commitment to open engagement with the rugby family, the conference is open to anyone who wishes to attend. Registration can be accessed via this link.   

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The annual Medical Commission Conference is a cornerstone of the sport’s commitment to embrace the latest science, research and technology in the advancement of player welfare for all players at all levels.” 

World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Éanna Falvey added: “The sport is united in its ongoing commitment to the welfare of players at all levels. In line with our plan, we will continue to review the science as it evolves and act in line with it, always putting players first. The conference is at the heart of that approach and this year we are focusing on research priorities, a dedicated focus on women’s welfare and the long-term health of the rugby family. 

“This year, we are particularly delighted to be hosting a dedicated session on brain health, featuring leading independent experts, providing the opportunity for former players in particular to better informed about the progressive and research-based initiatives that are being run to further protect and support in life beyond the rugby field.” 

The Medical Commission Conference is preceded on Monday, 15 November with Rugby Science Network 2021, which brings together leading rugby and independent research and science experts, with the agenda focused on women’s research and the science of the tackle area. World Rugby’s Medical Working Groups, including the Concussion Working Group, are also meeting prior to the Conference. 

Anyone wishing to attend the World Rugby Medical Commission Conference 2021 is able to register via this link.