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Applying diffusion innovation theory to evaluate the attributes of the new tackle law in rugby football codes
  1. Sharief Hendricks1,2,
  2. Ross Tucker3,4,
  3. Lara Paul1,
  4. Cameron Owen2,
  5. Marelise Badenhorst5,
  6. James Craig Brown1,2,4,
  7. Carolyn A Emery6,
  8. Keith A Stokes7,8,9,
  9. Ben Jones1,2,10,11
  1. 1 Division of Physiological Sciences and Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle and Sport Research Centre, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2 Carnegie Applied Rugby Research (CARR) Centre, Carnegie School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  3. 3 World Rugby Limited, Dublin, Ireland
  4. 4 Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Department of Exercise, Sport and Lifestyle Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  5. 5 Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand
  6. 6 Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  7. 7 Centre for Health, and Injury & Illness Prevention in Sport, University of Bath, Bath, UK
  8. 8 England Rugby Football Union, London, UK
  9. 9 UK Collaborating Centre on Injury and Illness Prevention in Sport (UKCCIIS), University of Bath, Bath, UK
  10. 10 Premiership Rugby, London, UK
  11. 11 England Performance Unit, Rugby Football League, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sharief Hendricks, Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, South Africa; sharief.hendricks01{at}

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Appropriate frameworks

Evaluating an injury prevention intervention at the population level is challenging. To guide the evaluation of a sports injury prevention intervention, Finch (2011) recommended the use of theoretical frameworks which have proven meaningful in public health-related prevention studies.1 However, the application of these frameworks in sports injury prevention research has been slow. One of these frameworks is the diffusion of innovations theory.2

The diffusion of innovations theory

The diffusion innovation theory was first proposed in 1962 by Everett Rogers, with the fifth edition published in 20032 and is regarded as one of the most effective frameworks in understanding how innovations are adopted.1 2 The diffusion innovation theory framework describes the process of diffusion through which an innovation (defined as an idea, practice or object perceived as new) spreads through communication channels over time among the members of the social system.2 While the diffusion innovation theory details a thesis of concepts related to how new ideas (innovations) are invented, diffused, adopted or rejected, and lead to social change, five perceived (by individuals in the system) attributes of the innovation influence the rate of adoption (box 1, figure 1).2 Other factors also play a role in boosting the rate of adoption, including the type of innovation decision, communication channels, nature of the social system and the extent of change agents’ promotion efforts (figure 1).2

Box 1

Definitions for rate of adoption and the perceived attributes of innovations.2

Adoption is a decision to make full use of an innovation as the best course of action available.

Rate of adoption is defined as the speed with which an innovation is adopted.

The perceived attributes of innovations are:

  1. Relative advantage – the degree to which an innovation is perceived to be superior to the idea/practice/object it supersedes or replaces

  2. Compatibility – the degree to which an innovation is perceived as being consistent with …

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  • X @Sharief_H, @Scienceofsport, @LaraPaul09, @camowen94, @jamesbrown06, @CarolynAEmery, @23benjones

  • Contributors SH conceptualised and wrote the first draft; thereafter, all authors provided input, editing and reviewing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests SH and CE are members of the BJSM Editorial Board. RT is employed by World Rugby. BJ is employed in a consultancy capacity by Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football League. KS is employed by England Rugby Football Union. SH, LP, CO, JB and BJ have consulted for World Rugby.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.