The role of player mass and contact speed on head kinematics and neck dynamics in rugby union tackling

Gregory J. Tierney, Ross Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Tackling is the most common cause of general injuries in rugby union, with player speed and mass identified as risk factors. This study aimed to use multibody modeling simulations to examine how tackler and ball carrier mass and contact speed affect inertial head kinematics and neck dynamics. Simulations were run by independently varying the ball carrier and tackler mass (from 60 to 110kg) and speed (from 0 to 10 m/s). Peak resultant inertial neck dynamics (force and moment) and head kinematics (linear acceleration, angular acceleration, and angular velocity) were extracted from each simulation. The greatest inertial head kinematics and neck dynamics sustained by a player was when there was the greatest mass disparity in the tackle, with the lighter player experiencing greatest inertial neck dynamics and head kinematics by up to 24% in comparison with the scenario when both players were the lightest mass (60 kg). As a player's mass increased, the magnitude of their head kinematics and neck dynamics diminished, but increased for their direct opponent, irrespective of whether they were the tackler or ball carrier. For speed, the greatest inertial head kinematics and neck dynamics sustained by the ball carrier and tackler were when they were both traveling at the highest speed. In theory, large discrepancies in mass of players, and high speeds into a tackle should be avoided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Early online date5 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Nov 2021

Keywords

  • biomechanics
  • computational modeling
  • injury

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