Correlation Between Head Position During a Tackle and Head and Neck Injury in Rugby Players

From examining game videos, injury records and a questionnaire completed by the tacklers, Sobue et al (2017) were able to characterise the tackler’s head position during one-to-one tackling and determine the relation that correct and incorrect head positions had on head and neck injury in rugby.

From analysing over 3970 tackles, from 28 game videos from two university teams the team were able to categorise tackle by the tackler’s head position. They also defined a ‘pre-contact phase’ and recorded its duration and the number of steps taken by the ball carrier prior to a tackle.

It was found that incidents of concussions, neck injuries, stingers and nasal fractures were significantly higher in the groups that were categorised as tackling with their head in the wrong position, relative to the ball carrier. They also found higher incident of injury in tackles with shorter duration and distance before contact.

This suggests that the prevalence of head and neck injury in rugby can be significantly reduced by proper training on the head position and execution of a tackle. These effects may also carry over to other contact sports, such as American Football.


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