Women and former players are the focus of the latest round of targeted research projects funded by World Rugby following an independent review of open submissions. The successful projects will be announced at the dedicated women’s game session of the 2022 World Rugby Player Welfare Symposium, which draws to a close today.

Underscoring a key pillar of its six-point plan to cement rugby as the leading sport in welfare, World Rugby doubled its research investment commitment in 2021.  The international federation issued a call for research houses to make submissions against priority areas, including the women’s game and former players.

The projects that will be undertaken, subject to finalising the necessary documentation, in 2022 include:

  • Developing Data-Derived Head Impact Reduction Protocols for Women’s Rugby Union (Swansea University, Wales)
  • Efficacy of the World Rugby Activate injury prevention programme in the female setting: a multi-centre home nations approach (University of Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • A cross-sectional study investigating retired elite female rugby players’ health (Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic, Canada)
  • Injury prevention in female youth rugby union: a multi-site international study (University of Calgary, Canada)
  • No time to waste: moving towards a necessary health support system for retired professional rugby players (Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Netherlands)

The transparent awarding process was overseen by an independent Scientific Committee, who assessed and recommended the proposals and who will continue to have oversight on the projects moving forward. The process is also supported by the World Rugby Risk Management Committee,

The international federation has invested more than £1.2 million on independently-run welfare research since 2015 and recent examples include the landmark ORCHID study that will determine the nature of head impacts across every level of the game and provide evidenced insights into how to mitigate them, injury surveillance in community and adult rugby and numerous concussion research projects. All are aimed at making the game as safe as it can be. 

The 2022 grant application process is open and runs until 29 April, 2022.  More details can be found on world.rugby  

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 Chief Player Welfare and Rugby Services Officer Mark Harrington added: “The research community plays a vital role in informing and shaping the future of the game, and we were delighted by the number and quality of the responses from research institutions against the priority areas of women’s injury prevention and former players.

“We look forward to seeing tangible outcomes that will further support our evidence-based approach to advancing welfare for players at all levels of the game.”

The Women’s Game session of the Player Welfare Symposium takes place at 19:00 GMT on 23 March