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Injuries Are Not on the Rise in Rugby and Concussion is Decreasing

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This week many in the rugby world met to discuss a dedicated player welfare and laws symposium in Marcoussis.

The aim is to ensure that players health and fitness is prioritised over everything. It’s first step is to shape the game post Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and the underpinning consideration is to reduce the risk of injury.

Members from unions, professional leagues, leading medics, researchers, scientists, players, coaches and lawmakers came together for the three-day event and evaluated data they have collected over the last cycle in order to make the next cycle as successful as possible.

They found that since 2014 the overall ball in play time has increased by 14% to 39 minutes, which subsequently means that the number of tackles, rucks and passes per game have increased.

The data which is taken from 22 elite competitions across the globe also found that the overall number of injuries has not increased, and concussion has actually dropped by 14% over the 2017/18 season.

This is the first time that concussion has dropped in the sport.

The tackle was found to account for 50% of all injuries, although that figure is decreasing. However, the tackle accounts for 76% of all concussions, with 72% of all concussions sustained are by the tackler.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont talked through the plan they hope to implement over the four-years following Japan.

“The objective of the symposium was to bring together playing, coaching, medical and law experts to identify and explore potential law changes to further injury-prevention while promoting game simplicity, accessibility and spectacle. We have made great progress in recent years. While it is evident from the latest detailed data that ball in play time and the number of tackles is increasing in elite rugby, the overall injury rate is not increasing globally and the concussion rate appears to be decreasing for the first time,” he said.

He also added that this is the first step in progressing player welfare within the game.

“However, we always strive to do more to protect our players and reduce the risk of injury. This forum was an important first collaborative step and the delegates identified a number of recommendations for our rugby committee to consider,” he said.

The outcomes of the symposium include a law trail; With injury-prevention at the heart of the new four-year quadrennial law review cycle, the delegates proposed a number of evidence-based areas for potential law for trial, which World Rugby will now evaluate in detail via the expert law review group.

A law application; World Rugby to implement a high tackle sanctioning framework to promote sanction consistency and public understanding.

The training loads of a player will now be noted starting in this year’s World Cup as players must have a “load passport” in which everything is logged to ensure the best-practice training load.

Injury surveillance that was implemented on January 1st which states a HIA must include; a) undertake detailed injury surveillance in line with World Rugby standards to create one comprehensive annual set of comparable and definitive global data, b) operate a match day doctor at every match, c) implement minimum video review standards and d) enable World Rugby representation on any HIA review panel.

Unions are now encouraged to adopt the Activate injury-prevention warm-up programme that was developed by the RFU and the University of Bath. This found a 50% decrease in concussions and a 40% reduction in injuries when used at least three times a week.

There will be more education at all levels on the tackle to continue the reduction of injuries in the area.

It is great to see the game become safer and hopefully with meetings and plans like this it continues in the right direction.

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New Springboks Head Coach Announced

The Springboks have confirmed their new coach and his coaching staff

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The Springboks have confirmed that Jacques Nienaber has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach.

Nienaber takes over from World Cup winning coach Rassie Erasmus, who has moved to the director of rugby role and the new head coach will report directly to Erasmus in his new position. 

Speaking on the unveiling Erasmus believed that Nienaber is the perfect man to take over from him due to his experience with the side already. 

“Jacques is highly experienced and has worked with the Springboks on three separate occasions now so knows exactly what the job is about. Jacques will be responsible for the Test match preparation and day-to-day team operations but, as the director of rugby, I will be with the team for the majority of the time and in the coaches’ box with Jacques at matches. I’ll still be responsible for the strategy and results with Jacques taking operational control. The structure allows the director of rugby to spend more time on other aspects of the role,” he said. 

Nienaber himself is delighted to have the chance to manage the reigning World Cup holders and is looking forward to the challenge ahead. 

“This is a massive honour and responsibility, but I have a good understanding of what it entails, especially in this new structure. I’ve worked with Rassie in a coaching capacity for nearly two decades now and we have a very good idea of how each of us thinks and as I’ll still be reporting to him our working relationship won’t be changing. It’s a big step-up for me in terms of carrying the day-to-day leadership role and there will be other adjustments but in many ways, it will also be business as usual. We’ve built up a good culture over the past two years and we’ll simply be looking to extend that,” he said. 

Elsewhere, there is a tactical shuffle of coaches with Nienaber’s promotion as Mzwandile Stick coming into the assistant coach role, while former Ireland international Felix Jones remains in the set-up, but is now a European-based coaching consultant. 

There are two new appointments as well in the coaching set-up with Deon Davids and Daan Human, the Bulls scrum coach, sharing the role of the forwards coach, taking over from Matt Proudfoot. 

The changes are at a minimal to try and keep the harmony with the current squad following their incredible season last year and they will be hoping to continue where they left off later this year.

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Borthwick Confirms New Job Already

Steve Borthwick confirmed his departure from the England set-up yesterday and less than 24 hours his new role has been announced

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Leicester Tigers have confirmed that England assistant coach Steve Borthwick will take over as head coach once his current commitments to the national side conclude.

It is a move that has been rumoured for some time and with Borthwick announcing his departure from the England set-up yesterday after over four years with them, many expected that he would be heading in the Tigers direction. 

However, the speed at which the confirmation has come about is the only surprise, but the former England international is delighted to be given the chance to manage the Tigers after learning so much from working with Eddie Jones since 2012. 

“The last four-and-a-half years working with the England team has been an incredible journey. I have worked with some brilliant players and staff. In particular, I would like to thank Eddie Jones. To have worked with one of the greatest head coaches in the world for so long has been an unbelievable experience. I’m delighted to be joining Leicester Tigers as head coach. The Tigers have such a long and successful history and are one of the greatest rugby clubs in the game. Welford Road, with the special atmosphere created by the club’s incredible supporters roaring their team forward, is a very special place to be. We must now work to build upon that great history and create our future to get this club to the top of European rugby. It is a brilliant challenge and I am excited to start working with the players and everybody associated with the team. Geordan provides a link with the club’s greatest teams and we will be working together to ensure that there are many successful days ahead for this club, and for our supporters to enjoy,” he said. 

He will be welcomed into the club with open arms after being part of the Japanese national set-up that stunned the world at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, before switching to England where he has won two Six Nations titles and reached a World Cup final. 

His arrival sees current head coach Geordan Murphy changes his role at the club, taking up the position of director of rugby and club chairman Peter Tom believes that the two former stars can build back a Tigers team that has struggled lately. 

“The appointment of Steve Borthwick as head coach and Geordan Murphy in the role of director of rugby provides an exciting combination of leadership, expertise and experience to drive the club forward in its desire to challenge for major honours again. The club has enjoyed many of its greatest successes with a blend of the Tigers DNA alongside fresh, innovative ideas from outside, both among the players and the coaching staff, and we look forward to Geordan and Steve leading that in their respective new roles,” he said. 

Both Borthwick and Murphy will be hoping to bring the Premiership side back to the top level of the game come next season, but before then they have their separate tasks, with Borthwick guiding England through the upcoming Six Nations, while Murphy attempts to take the Tigers further up the Premiership table.

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England Coach Set for Departure

England have confirmed that one of their coaches will leave at the end of the season and they already have his replacement sorted

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England have confirmed that assistant coach Steve Borthwick will leave his role come the end of the season.

The 57-cap former England international has been involved with head coach Eddie Jones since 2012, having previously held the role of Japan’s forwards coach. 

However, in 2016 the two left for England, during which time they have picked up two Six Nations crowns and made it to the Rugby World Cup final last year, but Borthwick admits following the tournament in Japan he made the decision to call time on his current role. 

“I am very proud of what we have achieved as a team since 2016, culminating in a Rugby World Cup Final last year. Having come back from Japan, spent time with my family and reflected on my time with England, I have decided to step away from the role towards the end of the season,” he said. 

As well as his time with England, Borthwick was also part of the coaching set-up during the British and Irish Lions drew with New Zealand in 2017. 

Speaking on his departure head coach Eddie Jones praised his assistant’s impact and confirmed he will be missed around the camp. 

“I have had a great seven years with Steve. He is a loyal, hard-working and analytical coach but I understand he needs now to get out on his own following this campaign. He’s made that decision and we are really pleased for him. He created a great lineout for England and really developed the young guys. If you look at someone like Maro Itoje, he’s become a world-class lock under Steve. He has also turned our maul into a weapon for us and he’s done brilliant work co-ordinating the England programme. We will miss him greatly,” he said. 

The Rugby Football Union have already announced that Jason Ryle will take on the position in November and he is delighted to have the opportunity. 

 “I am really excited about the opportunity to work in a world-class programme with the England national team and someone like Eddie with his experience is very appealing for me. It will be a real honour to work with some of the best coaches and so many quality England player,” he said. 

Ryle is currently the assistant coach at Australian rugby league side Melbourne Storm, where he has been since 2016, but this will be a huge step up for him. 

Meanwhile, it is expected that Borthwick will head to Leicester when he does leave the England team, in what would be a massive boost for the Premiership outfit. 

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