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World Rugby to introduce contact training restrictions

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World Rugby

World Rugby and International Rugby Players (IRP) have published new contact training load guidance aimed at reducing injury risk and supporting short and long-term player welfare. The guidance is being supported by national players’ associations, national unions, international and domestic competitions, top coaches and clubs.

Earlier this year, World Rugby unveiled a transformational six-point plan aiming to cement rugby as the most progressive sport on player welfare. These new best-practice guidelines focus on the intensity and frequency of contact training to which professional rugby players should be exposed and have been shaped by consultation with players and coaches as well as leading medical, conditioning and scientific experts.

While the incidence of training injuries is low relative to that of matches, the volume of training performed means that a relatively high proportion (35-40 per cent) of all injuries during a season occur during training, with the majority of these being soft tissue injuries. Since the training environment is highly controllable, the guidelines have been developed to reduce injury risk and cumulative contact load to the lowest possible levels that still allow for adequate player conditioning and technical preparation.

Global study

The guidelines are based on a global study undertaken by IRP of almost 600 players participating across 18 elite men’s and women’s competitions, and a comprehensive review of the latest injury data. This reveals that training patterns vary across competitions, with an average of 21 minutes per week of full contact training and an average total contact load of 118 minutes per week. A more measured and consistent approach to training will help manage the contact load for players, especially those moving between club and national training environments. The research supports minimising contact load in training, in order that players can be prepared to perform but avoid an elevated injury risk at the same time. The guidelines aim to help strike that balance.

New ‘best practice’ training contact guidelines

World Rugby and International Rugby Players’ new framework [https://www.world.rugby/the-game/player-welfare/medical/contact-load] sets out clear and acceptable contact guidelines for training sessions, aiming to further inform coaches – and players – of best practice for reducing injury risk and optimising match preparation in season. The guidance covers the whole spectrum of contact training types, considering volume, intensity, frequency and predictability of contact, as well as the optimal structure of sessions across the typical training week, including crucial recovery and rest periods.

Recommended contact training limits for the professional game are:

  1. Full contact training: maximum of 15 minutes per week across a maximum of two days per week with Mondays and Fridays comprising zero full contact training to allow for recovery and preparation
  2. Controlled contact training: maximum of 40 minutes per week 
  3. Live set piece training: maximum of 30 minutes set piece training per week is advised

The guidelines, which also consider reducing the overall load for players of particular age, maturity and injury profile (in line with the risk factors and load guidance published in 2019), will feature in the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cup player welfare standards.

Instrumented mouthguard research programme to inform effectiveness

World Rugby is partnering with elite teams to measure the ‘real life’ effect of these guidelines (in training and matches) and assess the mechanism, incidence and intensity of head impact events using the Prevent Biometics market-leading instrumented mouthguard technology and video analysis to monitor implementation and measure outcomes.

The technology, the same employed in the ground-breaking Otago Rugby Head Impact Detection Study, will deliver the biggest ever comparable bank of head impact data in the sport with more than 1,000 participants across the men’s and women’s elite, community and age-grade levels. The teams that have signed up so far are multiple Champions Cup winners Leinster, French powerhouse Clermont Auvergne and Benetton Treviso while discussions are ongoing with several other men’s and women’s teams across a range of competitions.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin said: “This important body of work reflects our ambition to advance welfare for players at all levels of the game. Designed by experts, these guidelines are based on the largest study of contact training in the sport, developed by some of the best rugby, performance and medical minds in the game. We believe that by moderating overall training load on an individualised basis, including contact in season, it is possible to enhance both injury-prevention and performance outcomes, which is good for players, coaches and fans.”

World Rugby Director of Rugby and High Performance and former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt added: “Training has increasingly played an important role in injury-prevention as well as performance. 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.

“These new guidelines, developed by leading experts and supported by the game, are by necessity a work in progress and will be monitored and further researched to understand the positive impact on player welfare. We are encouraged by the response that we have received so far.

“We recognise that community level rugby can be an almost entirely different sport in terms of fitness levels, resources and how players can be expected to train, but the guidelines can be applied at many levels, especially the planning, purpose and monitoring of any contact in training.”

International Rugby Players Chief Executive Omar Hassanein said the guidelines are being welcomed by players: “From an International Rugby Players’ perspective, this project represents a significant and very relevant piece of work relating to contact load. We’ve worked closely with our member bodies in gathering approximately 600 responses from across the globe, allowing us to have sufficient data to then be assessed by industry experts. The processing of this data has led to some quite specific recommendations which are designed to protect our players from injuries relating to excessive contact load. We will continue to work with World Rugby as we monitor the progress of these recommendations and undertake further research in this area.”

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster, who was involved in reviewing the study and advising the development of the guidelines, said: “We have a responsibility to make the game as safe as possible for all our players. For coaches, optimising training plays a significant role in achieving that objective. It is important that we do not overdo contact load across the week in order that players are fresh, injury-free and ready for match days. These guidelines provide a practical and impactful approach to this central area of player preparation and management.”

Ireland international and IRP Head of Strategic Projects and Research Sene Naoupu said: “While this is the first step of the implementation and monitoring process, it is an incredible outcome that shows just how much players care about this area. It also provides a foundation to review and determine future direction of implementation across the game, within an evidence-based injury-prevention programme for performance and welfare.” 

World Rugby is also progressing a wide-ranging study of the impact of replacements on injury risk in the sport with the University of Bath in England, a ground-breaking study into the frequency and nature of head impacts in community rugby in partnership with the Otago Rugby Union, University of Otago and New Zealand Rugby, and further research specific to the professional women’s game. All of these priority activities will inform the decisions the sport makes to advance welfare for players at all levels and stages.

6 Nations

Farrell Names 37 Player Squad For 2022 Guinness Six Nations

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Andy Farrell and the Ireland coaching group have named a 37 player squad ahead of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations Championship which commences in early February.

The squad will be captained by Johnny Sexton who earned his 100th cap for his country against Japan during the November international window.

Ireland will host Wales, Italy and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium over the course of the Championship while also travelling to Paris and London to face France and England respectively.

There are two uncapped players named in the extended squad – Ulster’s Michael Lowry and Connacht’s Mack Hansen. Both have trained with the national squad in the past few months, Lowry during the Vodafone Summer Series in July and Hansen during the Autumn Nations Series in November.

Michael Lowry training with Ireland during the Vodafone Summer Series, July 2021

Connacht’s Cian Prendergast will join the squad for the training camp in Portugal as a Development Player. The former Ireland U20 player has made nine appearances for Connacht this season.

James Lowe has picked up a muscle injury that has ruled him out for a number of weeks.

Andy Farrell, Ireland Head Coach, commented: “In November we challenged the group to get up to speed quickly so that the team could perform at international level. The same will apply for this Six Nations campaign, we need to be at our best against Wales on the opening weekend.

“We have a strong squad with competition for places across the board, there is a nice blend of experienced internationals and guys who have had their first taste of this level in the past 12 months.  The games in November gave us a good foundation to build on and areas where we know we will have to improve.

“It will be an exciting Championship with so many strong squads and impressive performances across the board during the Autumn.”

Ireland’s opening fixture of the 2022 Six Nations Championship is against Wales on Saturday 5th February. A week later, the squad will travel to France to take on Les Bleus in Paris. In Round 3, on Sunday 27th February, Ireland host Italy at the Aviva Stadium and then travel to Twickenham to take on England two weeks later.

In the final round of the Championship, Ireland host Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 19th March.

All games will be available on free-to-air television in both the Republic and Northern Ireland. ITV (NI) will broadcast all of Ireland’s games, RTE (ROI) will broadcast the games against Wales and England while VIRGIN (ROI) will broadcast the games against France, Italy and Scotland.

IRELAND Guinness Six Nations Squad 2022

Backs (17)
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 33 caps
Robert Baloucoune (Ulster/Enniskillen) 2 caps
Joey Carbery (Munster/Clontarf) 27 caps
Jack Carty (Buccaneers/Connacht) 10 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) 4 caps
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 27 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 96 caps
Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 12 caps
Mack Hansen (Connacht) uncapped
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 53 caps
James Hume (Ulster/Banbridge) 1 cap
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 16 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 30 caps
Michael Lowry (Ulster/Banbridge) uncapped
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 92 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 37 caps
Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 101 caps CAPTAIN

Forwards (20)
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 6 caps
Finlay Bealham (Connacht/Buccaneers) 18 caps
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 25 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 22 caps
Gavin Coombes (Munster/Young Munster) 2 caps
Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 12 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 52 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 112 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 65 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 23 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 16 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 45 caps
Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 79 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 2 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 40 caps
Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 2 caps
Nick Timoney (Ulster/Banbridge) 2 caps
Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 3 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 35 caps

Development Player
Cian Prendergast (Connacht)

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography

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6 Nations

Scotland name Six Nations Squad

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Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Gregor Townsend has named five uncapped players in his 39-man squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations including Saracens back-rower Andy Christie and London Irish scrum-half Ben White.

Rory Darge, Ben Vellacott and Kyle Rowe are also rewarded with call-ups ahead of Scotland’s first game of the championship on Saturday 5 February against England.

Andy Christie represented Scotland at youth level, playing for the Under-16s and the 22-year-old has played with Saracens since 2018, becoming a prominent figure for the London side.

Ben White, aged 23, signed for London Irish last year from Leicester Tigers and featured in their victory over Edinburgh Rugby last weekend.

Fellow London Irish player Kyle Rowe is also named in the squad having impressed in the Premiership this season, notably scoring a hat-trick against Saracens and was previously a member of the Scotland 7s and U20s teams.

Darge and Vellacott have been selected due to consistently good performances at Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh respectively.

Following his memorable debut against England last year, Bath centre Cameron Redpath has recovered from injury and will once again be in contention ahead of the Six Nations opener.

During the Autumn Nations Cup, Ewan Ashman, Jamie Hodgson, Josh Bayliss, Javan Sebastian, Pierre Schoeman, Rufus McLean and Sione Tuipulotu all received their first Scotland caps and are included once again.

he squad will meet up at Oriam on Monday 24 January for a training camp before reconvening the following week ahead of the Calcutta Cup clash.

Fresh from claiming top spot in Scotland’s all-time try scoring list during the Autumn Nations Series Stuart Hogg once again captains his country.

He is joined by fellow British & Irish Lions adding their experience to the squad in Finn Russell, Ali Price, Zander Fagerson, Chris Harris, Rory Sutherland, Duhan van der Merwe and Hamish Watson.

Elsewhere there are call-ups for Edinburgh pair back-row Magnus Bradbury and prop WP Nel who missed out on selection for the Autumn Nations, as did Exeter Chiefs lock Jonny Gray who also returns.

Northampton centre Rory Hutchinson also earns a squad selection having not featured for Scotland in 2021.

Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend said: “When you look through the squad this is the most competitive I’ve seen it in so many areas and that’s testament to the strength and depth we have.

“We are able to call-up several new players into the squad such as Andy Christie, Kyle Rowe and Ben White. We have been aware of all of the uncapped players for a while now and recently they have all experienced a breakthrough in terms of their performances at club level.

“A key part of the squad selection was rewarding form and that definitely applies to Ben Vellacott and Rory Darge who have been excellent for their clubs this season.

“We’re delighted to be able to include Cameron Redpath in the squad after missing the last few months with injury. He managed to get a game under his belt prior to the squad selection so we’ll see how he performs for Bath and in our training over the next couple of weeks.

“The Guinness Six Nations is the best competition we have in rugby so to be involved in it is a real privilege, especially starting with our oldest rivals in front of a sold-out home crowd.”

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6 Nations

Wales squad for 2022 Guinness Six Nations named

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Wales have named a 36-man squad for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations campaign.

Three uncapped players feature, with Ospreys duo Dewi Lake (hooker) and Jac Morgan (back row) receiving call ups alongside Cardiff Rugby’s James Ratti (back row).

Another five players could be in line to make their first Six Nations appearance, including Bradley Roberts and Christ Tshiunza who made their international debut in the 2021 Autumn Nations Series.

Dan Biggar will captain the squad for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations in the absence of the injured Alun Wyn Jones, with Adam Beard named as vice-captain.

Ross Moriarty and Alex Cuthbert could win their 50th caps during the campaign, Jonathan Davies could reach the milestone of 100 Test appearances overall and Dan Biggar would be in line for his 100th Wales cap if he features in all five matches.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: “We are excited to get back together as a squad when we meet up on Monday.

“The Guinness Six Nations is a very special competition and we want to go out and win, like every other nation. This is tournament rugby, so it’s about working hard in training and preparing well each week.

“Last year the Six Nations offered fans an exciting brand of rugby with lots of tries and, while we know we have five tough matches ahead and the margins in Test rugby are fine, we are looking forward to the challenge.

“With the world cup on the horizon next year, every match will be important for development on the road to France.

On the captain Pivac said: “In terms of captaincy we’ve named Dan Biggar. With the experience missing with some players out injured, we wanted someone who had experienced the competition on a number of occasions and knows the rigours of it. He gives us that – he has 95 Wales caps and he’s toured with the British and Irish Lions.

“Dan has the respect of the other players and management so we think he’ll do a great job.”

Following last week’s confirmation that spectators can return to watch Wales in Cardiff Pivac added: “It’s fantastic news that we will continue to have crowds at Principality Stadium.

“We have the most incredible fans and the atmosphere they create is second to none. I know the players cannot wait to get back out and put in a performance for them.”

The squad will meet up at the national training base in Hensol on Monday 24 January ahead of its first game against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on Saturday 5 February (KO 2.15pm).

Limited tickets are still available for Wales’ three home fixtures at Principality Stadium via WRU member clubs or at: wru.wales/tickets

WALES 2022 GUINNESS SIX NATIONS SQUAD
 
Forwards (20)
Rhys Carre (Cardiff Rugby – 16 caps)
Wyn Jones (Scarlets – 38 caps)
Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 5 caps)
Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 23 caps)
Dewi Lake (Ospreys – uncapped)
Bradley Roberts (Ulster Rugby – 1 cap)
Leon Brown (Dragons – 16 caps)
Tomas Francis (Ospreys – 60 caps)
Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Rugby – 34 caps)
Adam Beard (Ospreys – 29 caps), vice-captain
Ben Carter (Dragons – 5 caps)
Seb Davies (Cardiff Rugby – 13 caps)
Will Rowlands (Dragons – 13 caps)
Christ Tshiunza (Exeter Chiefs – 2 caps)
Taine Basham (Dragons – 7 caps)
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Rugby – 14 caps)
Jac Morgan (Ospreys – uncapped)
Ross Moriarty (Dragons – 49 caps)
James Ratti – (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 34 caps)

Backs (16)
Gareth Davies (Scarlets – 65 caps)
Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 8 caps)
Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 29 caps)
Gareth Anscombe (Ospreys – 29 caps)
Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints – 95 caps), captain
Rhys Priestland (Cardiff Rugby – 52 caps)
Callum Sheedy (Bristol Bears – 13 caps)
Jonathan Davies (Scarlets – 93 caps)
Uilisi Halaholo (Cardiff Rugby – 9 caps)
Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 16 caps)
Owen Watkin (Ospreys – 26 caps)
Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 35 caps)
Alex Cuthbert (Ospreys – 48 caps)
Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby – 12 caps)
Johnny McNicholl (Scarlets – 8 caps)
Liam Williams (Scarlets – 74 caps)

Players unavailable for selection due to injury:
Elliott Dee, Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones, Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Josh Macleod, Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Johnny Williams, George North, Leigh Halfpenny

Wales 2022 Six Nations fixtures

Sat 05/05/22 Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium KO 2.15pm (ITV & S4C)
Sat 12/02/22 Wales v Scotland, Principality Stadium, KO 2.15pm (BBC & S4C)
Sat 26/02/22 England v Wales, Twickenham Stadium, KO 4.45pm (Itv & S4C)
Fri 11/03/22 Wales v France, Principality Stadium, KO 8pm (BBC & S4C)
Sat 19/03/22 Wales v Italy, Principality Stadium, KO 2.15pm (BBC & S4C)

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