Canterbury study tackles head collision risks for junior rugby players
A new field trial investigating whether headgear can help prevent collision-related injuries in junior rugby players will kick off next year amid growing concern about health and safety in the sport.
University of Canterbury Education, Health and Human Development Professor Nick Draper will lead a two-year study into head collisions in junior rugby and the potential of World Rugby-sanctioned headgear to reduce impacts.
Professor Draper, who is an experienced junior rugby coach and a father of three young rugby-playing sons, says the study is timely given rising concern from parents and the rugby union community about the health risks associated with head collisions.
“There are parents who are choosing not to let their children play rugby as more concussion cases come to light, and I think as researchers and as a university, we have a responsibility to the community to find ways to make the game safer for our children.
“Our new research, starting early next year, is aimed at finding out whether real-world study examining the potential of World Rugby-approved protective headgear to reduce peak accelerations in collisions.
“We recognise there’s a gap in the research relating to teenage rugby players in the important area of player safety. Rugby is our national game, it’s a contact sport and over three-quarters of our active rugby players are juniors, so the effect of concussion on children is a significant health issue.”