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RPA statement: Demand to limit players to 30 games per season

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The RPA have called for a limit of 30 games per season to reduce injury risk. New research funded by the RPA indicates that players making 31 match involvements in a campaign face a significantly higher injury burden in the following year.

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The Influence of Match Exposure on Injury Risk in Elite Men’s Rugby Union study was conducted by the University of Bath and it defines match involvement as “any time spent on the field”. It built upon a previous study conducted in 2017 and utilised data from the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby.

RPA welfare director Richard Bryan said: “The RPA position is that season match limits should be reduced to a maximum of 30 match involvements of any kind for a player, in order to reduce injury risk.

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“Going forward it is essential that this research, and other research on match/training exposure and injury risk, continues to be refreshed along with the assessments and conclusions reached for both the men’s and women’s game.”

An RPA statement added that it could even recommend further reductions to the 30-game cap depending on the outcome of a further ongoing mouthguard study. The research was welcomed in the wider game.

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Mark Harrington, World Rugby’s chief player welfare and rugby services officer, said: “World Rugby welcomes all research that has the ability to inform evidence-based moves to reduce the risk of injury in rugby through prevention, management and education.”

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Conrad Smith, head of player welfare and high performance for global representative body International Rugby Players, added: “Injury prevention is one of the most pressing issues in our game and this is extremely important research from the RPA.”

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