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Tackle technique and tackle-related injuries in high-level South African Rugby Union under-18 players: real-match video analysis
  1. Nicholas Burger1,
  2. Michael I Lambert1,
  3. Wayne Viljoen1,2,
  4. James C Brown1,
  5. Clint Readhead1,2,
  6. Sharief Hendricks1
  1. 1Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
  2. 2South African Rugby Union (SARU), SARU House, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Nicholas Burger, Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Private bag X5, Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape 7725, South Africa; burgernick{at}vodamail.co.za

Abstract

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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