Moray House School of Education and Sport

Tackling women’s Rugby injury rates

A new research study funded by World Rugby aims to improve injury and recovery rates in women's rugby.

New study

A study funded by World Rugby to help female players avoid injury and recuperate more quickly will be led by sport medicine experts from the University of Edinburgh, Bath, and Cardiff Metropolitan University with Dr Debbie Palmer, the co-Director of the new Edinburgh – Bath IOC Research Centre, as study team leader. The aim is to fine-tune the current Activate programme, mainly designed and tested in groups of male players. 

Activate exercise programme

Dr Debbie Palmer of Moray House School of Education and Sport believes the study is vital to provide evidence for Activate effectiveness in various settings for all rugby players: "While injury risk differs between males and females, it is also likely that female athletes may respond to prevention initiatives differently," says Dr Palmer. "It is important that injury prevention strategies are implemented and objectively evaluated in female cohorts, to reduce injuries and protect athlete health."

Adopted by the Rugby Union ruling body, Activate exercise programmes aim to improve strength, balance, and agility. Players who use the programme have said it boosts their performance while reducing injury risks and supports rehabilitation, but is variable depending on which level, age, and gender. 

The research

Due to successful injury and concussion reduction in men's and boys' rugby from Activate programmes, researchers will conduct a two-year study in women's rugby. Observing female matches and training sessions throughout Scotland, England, and Wales, the number of injuries and their severity before implementing, evaluating, and adapting the Activate programme to be specific for female players from the research collected. The study aims to bridge the gap between injury and recovery rates in female rugby due to the differences between men's and women's risks of injury - vital to support the health and safety of female rugby players.

Related links

Scientists Take Steps to tackle women’s rugby injuries head on

International Olympic Committee (IOC) Research

Dr Debbie Palmer