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Rugby injuries avoided by short exercise

Press Association logoPress Association 18/05/2017 Claire Hayhurst

Injuries in young rugby players could be reduced by more than 70 per cent thanks to a new 20-minute exercise program, a British study has found.

Players should complete the routine, which includes balance, strength and movement exercises, before matches and during training.

The research, Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found overall injuries fell by 72 per cent and concussion injuries by 59 per cent when the routine was performed at least three times per week.

The three-year study involved 40 schools and nearly 2500 players aged between 14 and 18.

Recommendations from the study will be rolled out by the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the sport's governing body in England, in preparation for next season.

"The results are impressive and we hope that a related study showing similar effects in the adult community game will be published soon," RFU community rugby director Dr Mike England said.

"We will be training our local delivery workforce to help clubs, schools, colleges and universities adopt this type of training and realise the potential benefits for players."

Researchers from the University of Bath, who led the study with the RFU, developed a season-long exercise program which is split into four stages and takes roughly 20 minutes to complete.

It is aimed at players in under-15 to under-18 age groups.

It includes a two-minute running warm-up with change-of-direction activities, four minutes of lower-limb balance training, eight minutes of targeted resistance exercises and six minutes of jumping, side-stepping and landing exercises.

Specific exercises change every four weeks to reflect the progress made by the players.

"Over recent years, injury risk in youth rugby has received much attention, highlighting the importance of establishing new, evidence-based injury reduction strategies," Professor Keith Stokes from the University of Bath said.

"We believe these findings will have a significant impact in helping to improve player welfare, making the game safer for young players to enjoy."

Dr Martin Raftery, chief medical officer of World Rugby, applauded the research and said they would discuss with both parties how the research could benefit the sport globally.

The Rugby Science team within the Department of Health at the University of Bath have been working closely with the RFU and the RFU Injured Players Foundation for the past 10 years.

In 2013, their research to reduce the forces in the scrum led to a change in World Rugby law, changing the scrum engagement technique to "crouch, bind, set".

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