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Rugby-Style Tackling Might Make Football Safer

HealthDay News
by -- Robert Preidt
Updated: Aug 5th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, Aug. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Could the rugby way of tackling lower the risk of concussions in American football?

A new study claims it could, by reducing the force of head impacts.

"For athletes who participate in a sport that involves a tackle or direct contact, adapting a rugby-style tackle where the players lead with their shoulders, not their heads, could make college sports safer," said study author Zach Garrett, from Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va.

"A small number of NFL teams have incorporated the rugby-style tackle in an effort to reduce risk of concussion," Garrett noted in an American Academy of Neurology (AAN) news release.

The researchers gathered and assessed head impact data from 20 male university football players and 10 male university rugby players during their spring practice seasons.

The football players had impact sensors in their helmets and the rugby players had impact sensors in their mouthguards.

At the end of the practice seasons, the football players had a total of 3,921 head impacts over 12 practices, and the rugby players had a total of 1,868 head impacts over nine practices.

After adjusting for other factors, the frequency of head impacts was lower among the rugby players than among the football players, according to the researchers.

They also found that the rugby players had lower impact forces to the head than the football players.

Impact was measured in g-force. Overall, average impacts were 21 g-force for the rugby players and 63 g-force for the football players.

The findings were presented recently at the AAN Sports Concussion Conference, in Indianapolis. Such research is considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Further studies with larger numbers of participants are needed to confirm these results and also to determine whether using a rugby-style tackle could effectively reduce the force of impact and potentially reduce the number or severity of concussions in college football," Garrett said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on preventing concussions in young athletes.