Background The high injury rate associated with rugby union is primarily due to the tackle, and poor contact technique has been identified as a risk factor for injury. We aimed to determine whether the tackle technique proficiency scores were different in injurious tackles versus tackles that did not result in injury using real-match scenarios in high-level youth rugby union.
Methods Injury surveillance was conducted at the under-18 Craven Week tournaments (2011–2013). Tackle-related injury information was used to identify injury events in the match video footage and non-injury events were identified for the injured player cohort. Injury and non-injury events were scored for technique proficiency and Cohen's effect sizes were calculated and the Student t test (p<0.05) was performed to compare injury versus non-injury scores.
Results The overall mean score for front-on ball-carrier proficiency was 7.17±1.90 and 9.02±2.15 for injury and non-injury tackle events, respectively (effect size=moderate; p<0.05). The overall mean score for side/behind ball-carrier proficiency was 4.09±2.12 and 7.68±1.72 for injury and non-injury tackle events, respectively (effect size=large; p<0.01). The overall mean score for front-on tackler proficiency was 7.00±1.95 and 9.35±2.56 for injury and non-injury tackle events, respectively (effect size=moderate; p<0.05). The overall mean score for side/behind tackler proficiency was 5.47±1.60 and 8.14±1.75 for injury and non-injury tackle events, respectively (effect size=large; p<0.01).
Summary Higher overall mean and criterion-specific tackle-related technique scores were associated with a non-injury outcome. The ability to perform well during tackle events may decrease the risk of injury and may manifest in superior performance.
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