World Rugby Announces New Contact Guidelines

September 29, 2021 by

World Rugby this week announced plans for the introduction of a new set of guidelines that will aim to reduce weekly contact training. The hope is that the reduced weekly contact training will also result in a reduction in injuries.

The new guidelines, which have been summarised by World Rugby in association with the players’ representative body International Rugby Players (IRP) into a six-point checklist, recommend weekly reductions in full-contact as well as controlled contact training. The recommendation for full-contact training is for a reduction to only 15 minutes per week, while controlled contact training is being recommended at 40 minutes with the help of tackle shields and protective body pads.

The current time-frame for full-contact training is around 19 minutes at elite level and 21 minutes for professional teams. The general consensus from a global survey involving 600 players is that this should be reduced even more, said World Rugby Director of Rugby, Joe Schmidt, this week.

World Rugby has come under immense recent pressure from player lobbyist groups. Last year’s landmark legal case against World Rugby drew attention once again to the risk of dementia at the top levels of the sport. The case was brought by former Lions and England hooker Steve Thompson after he himself was diagnosed with an early onset of the illness.

But according to World Rugby, the game is today already played in a much safer environment than what would have been the case when Thompson was playing. And the new guidelines will lower the risk of recurring concussions by even more.

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