Category: Strength and Conditioning

The Top 15 Rugby Researchers, Journals and Institutions in World

In February 2015, we posted an article “Research in Rugby growing exponentially-Rugby Research’s Top 15” Based on a Scopus search ( at the time (February 2015), we illustrated the growth of rugby research and the top rugby researchers and rugby research institutions. Here is the 3-year update (April 2018).

The Search

Before we get into the results, these are the search terms we entered into Scopus. For those unfamiliar with Scopus, it’s a database of peer-reviewed published research. Like any search database, you in type in a search term and it retrieves all the relevant data.

Below are our search terms: –

“Rugby” (will include rugby union, rugby league, rugby, etc)

“Rugby Union” (only rugby union)

My research interest is the tackle in rugby, so I also searched for: –

“Rugby” AND “Tackle”

“Rugby Union” AND “Tackle”

Only research with the above terms in the title, abstract or keywords were retrieved. The search includes all subject areas.

We report the number of articles by year, the top 15 rugby researchers, the top 15 rugby publishing journals, and the top 15 rugby research institutions.

Articles by year for “Rugby”

5031 articles on “rugby” since 1847.

3150 (63%) articles produced in the last 10 years. Average of 315 articles a year. 1338 published since the 2015 post.

Top 15 “Rugby” Publishing Journals

Top 15 “Rugby” Researchers

Top 15 “Rugby” Research Institutions

Articles by year for “Rugby Union”

1157 “Rugby Union”articles.

864 (75%) over the last 10 years. That’s an average of 86 articles a year. 391 published articles since 2015.

Top 15 “Rugby Union” Publishing Journals

Top 15 “Rugby Union” Researchers

Top 15 “Rugby Union” Research Institutions

Articles by year for “Rugby” AND “Tackle”

 262 articles on “Rugby” AND “Tackle”. 195 (74%) produced in the last 10 years.

Top 15 “Rugby” AND “Tackle” Publishing Journals

Top 15 “Rugby” AND “Tackle” Researchers

Top 15 “Rugby” AND “Tackle” Research Institutions

Articles by year for “Rugby Union” AND “Tackle”


Top 15 “Rugby Union” AND “Tackle” Publishing Journals

Top 15 “Rugby Union” AND “Tackle” Researchers

Top 15 “Rugby Union” AND “Tackle” Institutions

Let us know your thoughts, drop us a tweet or comment below.

Sharief Hendricks

What techniques determine a good tackle and ruck in the Six Nations and Championship?

To answer this question we analysed a total of 4479 tackles (Championship = 1853 tackles; Six Nations = 2626 tackles) and 2914 rucks (Championship = 1234 tackles; Six Nations = 1680 tackles). We studied the actions of the ball-carrier and tackler upon contact and after contact was made in the tackle. Thereafter, we observed and described the activities of the attackers and defenders at the ruck. Here are some of the highlights…

Firstly, the difference (or lack thereof) in tackle and ruck event numbers between the Six Nations and Championship.


Next, the technical determinants…

The Tackle

  • Being tackled from the front reduced the likelihood of offloads and tackle breaks in both competitions.
  • Fending during contact increased the chances of offloading and breaking the tackle in both competitions.
  • Strong ball-carrier leg drive in the Six Nations increased the probability of offloading in the tackle.
  • To break the tackle, ball-carrier leg drive increased the probability of a positive outcome in both competitions.

The Ruck

  • Actively placing the ball increased the likelihood of maintaining possession.
  • In the Six Nations, ball-carriers falling sideward after the tackle had a higher probability of maintain- ing ball possession during the ruck contest.
  • In the Championship, having 3–5 defending players actively engaging in the ruck decreased the likelihood of the attacking team maintaining possession of the ball by 85%.


While coaches and coaching manuals might recommend some of these techniques, for example, front-on shoulder tackles, other contact techniques such as fending are not part of standard contact training. Therefore, these techniques should be incorporated and emphasised during training to pre- pare players for competition.

Full article:

Hendricks, Sharief, Tiffany van Niekerk, Drew Wade Sin, Mike Lambert, Steve den Hollander, James Brown, Willie Maree, Paul Treu, Kevin Till, and Ben Jones. “Technical determinants of tackle and ruck performance in International rugby union.” Journal of Sports Sciences (2017): 1-7.