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Tackler and ball-carrier technique during moderate and severe injuries (≥8 days lost) compared with player-matched and team-matched injury-free controls in Elite Rugby Union
  1. Vincent Meintjes1,
  2. Pip Forshaw1,
  3. Steve den Hollander1,2,
  4. Lindsay Starling1,
  5. Michael Ian Lambert1,2,
  6. Wayne Viljoen1,2,3,
  7. Clint Readhead1,2,3,
  8. Sharief Hendricks1,2,4
  1. 1Division of Physiological Sciences, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2Health, Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Sport (HPALS) Research Centre, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3Medical Department, South African Rugby Union, Cape Town, South Africa
  4. 4Carnegie Applied Rugby Research (CARR) centre, Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sharief Hendricks, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7725, Western Cape, South Africa; sharief.hendricks01{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Objective To analyse tackler and ball-carrier technical proficiency during moderate and severe contact injuries (≥8 days lost) in professional rugby union, and compare it with injury-free event-matched controls from the same player and from the same team.

Methods Technical proficiency for 74 (n=74) (moderate and severe; ≥8 days lost) tackler and ball-carrier injuries during The Currie Cup (2014–2018) and 623 matched non-injury events (253 own controls, 370 team controls) were examined through video analysis using a standardised list of technical criteria.

Results Mean technical proficiency score for injured tacklers during front-on tackles was 6.19/16 (arbitrary units (AU) 95% CI 4.89 to 7.48), which was significantly different to their own controls (8.90/16 AU, 95% CI 8.37 to 9.43, p<0.001, effect size (ES)=1.21, large) and team controls (9.93/16 AU, 95% CI 9.50 to 10.40, p<0.001, ES=1.71, large). Mean technical proficiency score for injured ball-carriers during front-on tackles was 5.60/14 AU (95% CI 4.65 to 6.55), which was significantly different to their own controls (8.08/14 AU, 95% CI 7.56 to 8.60, p<0.001, ES=1.16, moderate) and team controls (8.16/14 AU, 95% CI 7.75 to 8.57, p<0.001, ES=1.25, large).

Conclusion For the tackler and ball-carrier, for both front-on and side-on/behind tackles, overall technical proficiency scores were significantly lower for the injury-causing event, when compared with the player’s own injury-free tackles and the team’s injury-free tackles. Through analysing player and team controls, player technique deficiencies for the injured player and player technique deficiencies that expose all players to injury were highlighted, which may inform injury prevention strategies and policies, and assist coaches in optimising training to reduce tackle injury risk.

  • rugby
  • injury prevention
  • contact sports
  • wounds and injuries

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @steve_dh1, @MikeLambert01, @Sharief_H

  • Contributors VM and SH were responsible for drafting the manuscript. All authors contributed to data collection and analysis, and contributed to the final write-up of the manuscript.

  • 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 None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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