How just 20 minutes of exercise can slash injury risk in rugby
Injuries to young rugby players could be reduced by more than 70pc with a 20-minute exercise programme.
Players should complete the routine, which includes balance, strength and movement exercises, before matches and during training.
A new study found that overall injuries fell by 72pc, and concussion injuries dropped by 59pc, when the exercise routine was performed at least three times per week.
Published in the 'British Journal of Sports Medicine', the three-year study involved 40 schools and nearly 2,500 players, aged between 14 and 18.
Recommendations from the study are to be rolled out nationwide by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in preparation for next season.
And the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) said that it would be monitoring the study too.
The season-long exercise programme, which is split into four stages, consists of a range of exercises and stretches.
Dr Mike England, community rugby director at the RFU, said: "The results are impressive and we hope that a related study showing similar effects in the adult community game will be published soon.
"The RFU plans to roll out this approach across the community game in England and we will be training our local delivery workforce to help clubs, schools, colleges and universities."
The study was led by Professor Keith Stokes, from the University of Bath.
"Over recent years, injury risk in youth rugby has received much attention, highlighting the importance of establishing new, evidence-based injury reduction strategies," he said.
"Our results are exciting because they show that carrying out a simple set of exercises on a regular basis can substantially reduce injuries in youth rugby."
A statement from the IRFU said: "Player welfare is the IRFU's number one priority, and is promoted through extensive coaching, medical and training programmes.
"This is an area we are always actively looking at, and the IRFU will review the research findings, in consultation with our colleagues in the RFU and World Rugby, to identify if there are ways to further develop our existing, robust, welfare programmes."