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Applying for funding

Applying for funding

Here, you can find out about applying to World Rugby for player welfare research funding.

Research Funding Terms and Conditions

Before applying to World Rugby for research funding, please familiarise yourself with the Terms and Conditions. Applying to World Rugby for funding will be taken as acceptance of these terms and conditions.

A note on study sampling

As of the 2021 funding cycle, proposals must, where applicable and appropriate, commit to sampling from both male and female cohorts or from female-only cohorts. Applications proposing to sample from male-only cohorts must provide adequate justification for why female cohorts will not be sampled from.

What factors are considered in whether a project receives funding?

World Rugby’s Scientific Committee adopt the following principles when reviewing research proposals:

  • Submitted proposals must start in the following calendar year. For example, proposals submitted during 2023 must plan to start on or after 1st January 2024
  • All proposals must be submitted using the World Rugby Online Research Grant Portal.
  • Applications must be made in English.

Research Impact

Proposals demonstrating a clear impact on player welfare best practice are looked upon more favourably in the review process, such as proposals that:

  • result in an outcome that directs or informs decision making to improve player welfare;
  • can apply to the global rugby community and not focused on localised issues or solutions;
  • either contribute new knowledge or build on previous research;


  • World Rugby may offer full or partial funding for a project.
  • World Rugby will consider project cost along with other factors, such as the research impact, the strength of study methodology, and if the study sample demographic suits the questions being investigated.
  • Funding amounts each year are not set, and the amount of funding awarded can change from year to year.
  • There are no lower or upper limits for project costs, below or above which proposals will not be considered.
  • It is better to provide more rather than less detail when justifying proposed costs.
  • World Rugby may approve funding for multiple years but will normally restrict funding to three years.
  • World Rugby and the applicant must agree on project performance indicators and milestones, with continued funding linked to achieving these indicators and milestones.
  • Applicants should not request funding from World Rugby to cover the cost of office space, secretarial support, or administrative charges by institutions.
  • Funding is not typically offered for conference attendance or open access journal fees.
  • Applicants can request funding from World Rugby for graduate student, technician and research assistant salaries with adequate justification.

Ethics Approval

  • Applicants will need to show their project has received approval from an institutional ethics board to have funding approved. Where a study does not require ethics approval, applicants must explain why.
  • Proposals must be made in English and budget items quoted in pounds sterling (GBP)

What types of projects are unlikely to receive funding?

The following projects will not be considered for funding unless initiated by World Rugby:

  • Studies with little likelihood of actionable outcome
  • Laboratory-based studies
  • Standalone pilot studies
  • Studies with little direct relation to Rugby Union
  • Studies concerned with the creation of intellectual property, conceivably for private or commercial use
  • Retrospective study designs, or studies where relevant data has already been captured
  • Studies relying on in-match player monitoring device data (e.g. GPS, LPS, optical monitoring) unless devices have been validated
  • Studies to develop new equipment
  • Studies involving animal testing

What topic areas have been identified as priorities by World Rugby?

Details of priority research areas can be found here.

What stages does the funding application process involve?

To receive research funding, proposals must progress through three stages:

  • Initial concept assessment;
  • Project plan assessment; and
  • Ethical Approval (not applicable in all cases)

Initial concept approval

Applicants provide World Rugby with an initial, general overview of their project. Completing the online template, the proposal requires:

  • Project Title
  • Name, affiliation, and working commitment to the project of each project team member
  • Timeline (with submission of predicted milestones as an attachment)
  • Budget (with detailed breakout and justification as an attachment)
  • Project Summary (max 1,000 characters)
  • Project Methods (max 2,000 characters)
  • Proposed Statistical Analyses Plan 
  • Intended Participants (max 1,000 characters) – with sample size calculation as an attachment, if applicable
  • Expected Outcomes (max 1,000 characters)
  • Benefits to Rugby (max 1,000 characters)

This initial concept document will be assessed against World Rugby’s research principles and current priorities by World Rugby’s Scientific Committee.

Project plan assessment

If the initial concept application is selected for further evaluation, the applicant(s) will be contacted and asked to submit a more detailed project plan.

World Rugby’s Scientific Committee will review the project plan. Invitation to submit a project plan does not guarantee a successful funding application.

Ethics Approval

Projects that plan to use human or animal participants must have ethics approval from an Institutional Ethics Committee at the applicant’s institution or in the area where the research will be conducted (if away from the applicant’s institutional ethics committee jurisdiction).

Applicants must include confirmation of ethics approval and a copy of the study information and consent form if the study will include human participants. If the applicant has applied for ethics approval with their institutional ethics committee and is awaiting a response, a copy of the ethics approval application must be submitted in the project plan. 

Where ethics approval is not required, the applicant must explain why in the project plan.

The World Rugby Institutional Ethics Committee (IEC) will not grant ethics approval for external projects.