Identify the frequency, propensity, and factors related to tackle events which result in contact with the head in elite-level women’s rugby league.
Prospective video analysis study.
Video footage from 59 Women’s Super League matches were analysed (n = 14,378 tackle events). All tackle events were coded as no head contact or head contact. Other independent variables included: area contacting head, impacted player, concussion outcome, penalty outcome, round of competition, time in match and team standard.
There were 83.0 ± 20.0 (propensity 304.0/1000 tackle events) head contacts per match. The propensity of head contact was significantly greater for the tackler than ball-carrier (178.5 vs. 125.7/1000 tackle events; incident rate ratio 1.42, 95 % confidence interval 1.34 to 1.50). Head contacts occurring from an arm, shoulder, and head occurred significantly more than any other contact type. The propensity of concussions was 2.7/1000 head contacts. There was no significant influence of team standard or time in match on the propensity of head contacts.
The observed head contacts can inform interventions, primarily focusing on the tackler not contacting the ball-carrier’s head. The tackler’s head should also be appropriately positioned to avoid contact with the ball-carrier’s knee (highest propensity for concussion). The findings are consistent with other research in men’s rugby. Law modifications and/or enforcement (reducing the number of un-penalised head contacts), concurrent with coaching interventions (optimising head placement or reducing the head being contacted) may help minimise head contact risk factors for women’s rugby league.

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