I listened to a podcast from the BBC on injuries to players selected for the Rugby World Cup. Of the original players selected apparently 33 have had to go home early.
So more than an entire squad has gone home injured. The stats from both World Rugby and the RFU apparently say there aren’t more injuries. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look at measures to reduce them anyway. There has been widespread comment that Northern Hemisphere teams look for contact too much. The view is that Southern Hemisphere sides look for space instead. It certainly appears that the Southern Hemisphere sides have suffered less. There are a number of factors that could account for this this beyond playing style including the season structure. Due to contract though we aren’t going to see a change in this space over the next four years but there are a couple of other things that could be introduced.
First would be a law change around substitutes. A reduction in the number of subtitutions would mean players and forwards especially would have to be more aerobically fit rather than power fit. Currently front row forwards rarely play longer than 60 minutes for example allowing them to be more explosive at scrum time.
Secondly a cap on the number of games or game time should either be implemented or reduced. I did a piece looking at average games players had played per year. Predictably the Southern Hemisphere players played less. How ever it’s also training that wears players down. In NFL for example there is a restriction on the amount of contact training that is allowed. So more rest time needs to be introduced for players.
Player welfare is a topic that has been around for many years but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep highlighting the issue.