A new exercise programme has been made available to help reduce the risk of injuries in rugby at all levels of the game.
It was launched by World Rugby ahead of this year's Rugby World Cup, with the international event expected to raise awareness and accelerate its use globally.
Research co-led by England Rugby and the University of Bath has shown that the Activate programme can reduce the risk of soft-tissue injuries by 26% and 40% and concussion risk by 29% and 60% in youth and adult rugby players, respectively.
There may be even greater reductions in the risk of these injuries if players use the programme as regularly and frequently as is practical, World Rugby said.
Activate consists of simple exercises designed to improve general movement control, muscle activation, strength and power. There are also several neck exercises to develop stability and mobility of the head/neck region, which may help to reduce the potential 'whiplash' effects that can occur with concussion.
Four different versions of the exercise programme are available -- an adult version and three age grade versions -- and each one consists of a number of progressive phases that should be undertaken for a set time before moving on to the next.
The objective is to lower the risk of injury by encouraging coaches and players to regularly integrate Activate exercises into their training sessions and pre-match routines.
"In addition to having proven injury-prevention benefits, by reducing the amount of time missed from rugby because of injuries, Activate can contribute to improving player performance and boosting the chances of team success," said Activate developer Dr Mike Hislop. "We hope all coaches and players understand the significance of this programme and incorporate the exercises into their training and pre-match routines."
Resources to support the use of Activate can be found at https://iris.world.rugby/coaching/activate-injury-prevention-exercise-programme.