Rugby Science Update 8
Professional male rugby union players’ perceived psychological recovery and physical regeneration during the off-season
The aim of this study was to explain the phenomenon of psychological recovery and physical regeneration of male professional rugby union players during the off-season. The study used a qualitative approach to gather the beliefs and experiences of players regarding their mental and physical health and well-being across the off-season period and identify the psychological and physical strategies adopted to recover and regenerate in preparation for the upcoming season. The study interviewed 34 male professional players, and found that the off-season is characterised by three phases that players undergo to preserve their mental and physical health and well-being to recover from the previous season and regenerate in preparation for the upcoming season. These include decompression from previous season, cognitive detachment from the rugby environment and preparation for preseason. Successful progression through all three phases appears to be influenced by variables including the work and life demands a player is encountering at the time, contextual factors such as their health status (ie, currently injured or ill), and their level of experience in the sport (eg, previous experiences of the off-season). The authors recommend players should receive sufficient time (5–6 weeks) in the off-season to progress through the phases of recovery and regeneration to prepare for the upcoming season, with consideration for the impact of work and life demands, contextual factors and experience levels. Also, education should be provided to all stakeholders regarding the importance of the off-season period for well-being (recovery and regeneration), together with strategies that can be used to enhance the quality of this process (ie, physically distancing from work environment to support cognitive detachment from rugby, engaging in development activities that nourish holistic identity and personal skill development). Clinicians should also support, where appropriate, player subgroups at risk of threats to well-being and welfare in the off-season period (long term or recently injured and younger professionals).
This is study is published in BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine and is open access.
Mellalieu, S. D., Sellars, P., Arnold, R., Williams, S., Campo, M., & Lyons, D. (2023). Professional male rugby union players’ perceived psychological recovery and physical regeneration during the off-season. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 9(1), e001361.
Tackling sport-related concussion: effectiveness of lowering the maximum legal height of the tackle in amateur male rugby – a cross-sectional analytical study
The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a tackle law variation that reduces the maximum legal tackle height from the line of the shoulder of the ball barrier, to the line of the armpit, on injury, head injury and sport-related concussion (SRC) incidence in amateur community rugby union. The study used a cross-sectional analytical design over the period 2018 (control) and 2019 (intervention) in a South African collegiate student rugby competition – which included 42 teams. Reducing the legal tackle height from the line of the shoulder to the armpit of the ball carrier in community amateur rugby showed a trend towards reducing injuries, head injuries and SRC, however, these injury trends were not statistically different.
This study is published in Injury Prevention and is open access.
Van Tonder, R., Starling, L., Surmon, S., Viviers, P., Kraak, W., Boer, P. H., … & Brown, J. C. (2023). Tackling sport-related concussion: effectiveness of lowering the maximum legal height of the tackle in amateur male rugby–a cross-sectional analytical study. Injury prevention, 29(1), 56-61.
Performance indicators associated with match outcome within the United Rugby Championship
This study had 3 aims i) identify performance indicators associated with match outcomes in the United Rugby Championship (URC), ii) compare efficacy of isolated data and data relative to opposition in predicting match outcome, and iii) investigate whether reduced performance indicator statistical models can reproduce predictive accuracy. The study analysed 27 performance indicators from 96 matches during the 2020-2021 URC season. Five key performances indicators differentiated between winning and losing in the URC – kicks from hand, metres made, clean breaks, turnovers conceded and scrum penalties. Kicking was highlighted as a key driver for match success, with the probability of winning higher for a team kicking more than their opposition. Also, team performance data are much more efficient at predicting match outcomes when expressed relative to the opposition’s performance.
This study is published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport and is open access.
Scott, G. A., Bezodis, N., Waldron, M., Bennett, M., Church, S., Kilduff, L. P., & Brown, M. R. (2023). Performance indicators associated with match outcome within the United Rugby Championship. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 26(1), 63-68.