• World Rugby funded study in England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa set to form the basis of updated contact training load guidelines
  • World Rugby’s 2023 Player Welfare Symposium sessions now available to watch in full at world.rugby
  • Key topics for discussion included the women’s game, long term player health, player load, performance data and proposals to lower tackle height in the community game.

World Rugby’s 2023 Player Welfare Symposium has heard how the international federation is planning on using new data to start to re-examine rugby’s contact training load guidelines.  A World Rugby funded study involving elite players in England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa using both smart mouthguards and saliva biomarker technology is being used for the first time to look closely at forces on the head which do not directly lead to concussions.

By using smart mouthguards for both scientific research and measuring player training load, World Rugby is exploring the idea that each player could be managed separately based on a variety of factors, rather than taking a catch all approach.

As part of a session on player load, the symposium heard that as more quality research is published over time, new technologies such as smart mouthguards and saliva biomarkers could mean that a whole new way of approaching contact training load for elite players is possible.

World Rugby’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Eanna Falvey said “This new data opens up a world of possibilities for rugby players, particularly at the elite level.  It will enable us to really understand just how much contact training players could or should be limited to over the course of a given period of time and maybe even allow coaches and medics to tailor limits to each individual player, based on their circumstances rather than taking a blunt, one size fits all approach.

“We’ll have to wait for the conclusion of these studies before we really know what we can do but the possibilities are exciting.  We’re also seeing that at the elite level, most of the forces a player experiences are in matches, not training, which is contrary to some of the received wisdom around the game at the moment.”

The emerging study details and World Ruby’s potential new approach was discussed at the organisation’s 2023 Player Welfare Symposium.  The conference held sessions on the women’s game, long term player health, the use of performance data and concluded with a Q&A session on proposals to lower the tackle height in community rugby.

All sessions of the 2023 Player Welfare Symposium are available to watch back on the World Rugby website.

World Rugby’s Chief Player Welfare and Rugby Services Officer Mark Harrington added “The 2023 Player Welfare symposium was a big success with over 750 professionals working in rugby, joining us from around the world. 

“Openness and transparency are a key pillar of World Rugby’s six point plan to make the sport the most progressive in the world on player welfare.  That is why we make recordings of these sessions available for anyone to watch back, so people can see the latest scientific evidence which informs our thinking in everything we do.

”World Rugby will never stand still on player welfare and our detailed work to benefit players at all levels of the game continues to go from strength to strength.”