Rennie queries World Rugby contact limits

Thu, 23/09/2021, 03:41 am
AAP & Staff Writer
by AAP & Staff Writer

Wallabies coach Dave Rennie has questioned the logic of World Rugby's new measures to curb injury that include a full-contact training cap of 15 minutes per week.

The fresh guidelines, formed after a study that involved 600 players from around the world as well as medical, conditioning and performance professionals, also recommended no more than 40 minutes of controlled contract training and 30 minutes of set-piece work each week.

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Mondays and Fridays would have zero full contact training to allow for recovery and preparation.

Controlled contact training is suggested to be limited to 40 minutes per week.

That would include at least one day of zero contact, while live set-piece training will be at no more than 30 minutes per week.

"Our immediate priority is to get teams to adopt the guidance, and the positive feedback we have received indicates that they will," said World Rugby's chief medical officer Dr Eanna Falvey.

"By monitoring their adoption, including using Prevent biometrics' instrumented mouthguard technology, we will be able to review and identify any further opportunities to advance welfare outcomes."

The study found that between 35-40 per cent of injuries occur during training and that a drop from about 21 minutes of full-contact training currently averaged would have positive spin-offs on injury and short and long-term player welfare.

According to a World Rugby statement the recommendations, which are not mandatory, attempt to "strike a balance" so players, particularly those moving between country and club, can be prepared to perform but avoid an elevated injury risk at the same time.

Rennie estimated the Wallabies did eight minutes of contact work on Tuesday, but said a 15-minute weekly cap could prove tough to police and detrimental to the overall goal.

"Who's timing it? I'm sure there's a lot of work going into coming up with these numbers but I'm not certain how that will pan out," he told reporters before Saturday's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina. 

"Thirty-five to 40 per cent of injuries happen at training, which means 60 to 65 happen at games.

"And you have to make sure from a training point of view you're getting the conditioning and contact load into them so that that they can deal with it on game day and have the technique required.

"There's focus around reducing injuries but the most important thing is ensuring our athletes have the skills and knowledge to deal with the contact." 

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World Rugby director of rugby and high performance Joe Schmidt, who coached Ireland, and former All Blacks centre Conrad Smith, now International Rugby Players head of player welfare, both said the 15-minute limit would have been irrelevant in their experience. 

Joe Schmidt, World Rugby director of rugby and high performance, added: "While there is a lot less full contact training than many people might imagine, it is our hope that having a central set of guidelines will further inform players and coaches of key considerations for any contact that is done during training."

Omar Hassanein, chief executive at the International Rugby Players organisation, said the global body for professionals was encouraged by the response from its members to the guidelines.

"From an International Rugby Players' perspective, this project represents a significant and very relevant piece of work relating to contact load," he said.

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