Collisions in junior rugby: Incidence, peak linear accelerations, peak rotational accelerations and the potential of headgear to reduce impact accelerations

Support this project
Status: In-progress
Year: 2021
Funded: $109,296
Grant Type: Private: Wine & Art Auction Event Grant

Rugby union is a popular contact sport played by 7.7 million players in 129 countries. In New Zealand over three-quarters of active rugby players are juniors. The physical contact and collisions inherent in rugby increase the risk of children being exposed to concussion. The effects of concussion for children and adolescents represent a significant health issue. The focus of our research is to accurately assess the number and size of collisions in rugby and to assess the potential of World Rugby approved headgear to reduce collision forces. No research exists for teenage rugby players in these important areas of athlete safety and health. 

The scientific significance of the study can be seen through the confusion that was identified even at the highest levels in the sport. New Zealand Rugby is the governing body for rugby in New Zealand. As part of the development of our study we consulted with NZR. It became clear from discussion that further research is required to help NZR in this important area of player health and wellbeing. The NZR Medical and Science Advisory Panel (MSAP), who approved the study, believed that “…wearing headgear does not prevent or modify concussion…” (July 2019). In contrast, however, Mike Anthony, the Head of High Performance at NZR suggested that headgear does offer mitigation of the risk of concussion (October 2019).

A necessary first step in deepening our understandings of concussion, as it relates to rugby, is to elucidate collisions mechanics; specifically to examine contact in rugby – incidence of collisions and the peak linear accelerations (PLA) and peak rotational accelerations (PRA) children are subject to when playing the game.

Researcher // Professor Nick Draper – University of Canterbury

More About Professor Nick Draper
0 mil
junior rugby players worldwide
countries where junior rugby is played
0 %
of all NZ rugby players are juniors

Stay in touch with CMRF

// Get all the latest news and insights to your inbox