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Rugby union needs a contact skill-training programme
  1. Sharief Hendricks1,2,
  2. Kevin Till1,3,
  3. James Craig Brown2,4,
  4. Ben Jones1,3
  1. 1Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Centre for Sport Performance, School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  2. 2Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3Yorkshire Carnegie Rugby Union Football Club, Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds, UK
  4. 4Department of Public & Occupational Health and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sharief Hendricks, Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Centre for Sport Performance, School of Sport, Fairfax Hall, Headingley Campus, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds LS6 3QS, UK; sharief.hendricks01{at}gmail.com

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The ability to engage in rugby contact is a highly demanding sports skill. In an 80 min match, these contact skills occur at different frequencies, have distinct injury risk profiles and each has specific physical and technical requirements. Therefore, developing effective contact skills is essential for safe participation and optimal performance. Over the past decade, knowledge has been gained about the dynamic nature of contact, the physical match demands, fitness conditioning requirements, contact injury mechanisms, technical requirements and how to design training for open skills in order for it to effectively transfer to match play. Most of this work is intended to guide the design and development of contact training programmes. However, the translation of this research into practice has been slow. The Knowledge Transfer Scheme aims to bridge the gap between science and practice, by solving problems in practice using the available scientific evidence. Given the current available contact skill evidence, in combination with the literature on skill development and training prescription, it is reasonable to state that we can adequately prepare players of different ages and levels for rugby contact. This discussion piece proposes that rugby needs a contact skill-training programme that includes all contact forms—ruck, scrum, maul, line-out, tackling and ball carrying into contact. The programme should detail the frequency of contact, intensity, contact type, timing, conditions and number of sessions. The programme should be aimed at all ages and playing levels, from the developing school player to the elite player, and account for the player's …

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