To explore the head acceleration profile of forwards and backs during a simulated front-on rugby tackle
Forty-one rugby union players each performed 10 tackles (5 left and 5 right) against a 50kg bag traveling at a speed of 4.2m/s. Formalized instructions were provided to standardize the procedure and technique. During each tackle a CSx Head Positioning Unit was worn behind the ear. The sensor recorded linear (4000Hz) and angular head acceleration (3200Hz) over a 15ms period for all impacts exceeding a 10g threshold.
Peak linear and rotational acceleration values of 88±51g and 2403±604rad/s were observed for the backs. For the forwards peak linear values of 91±48g and rotational acceleration of 2560±530rad/s were documented. The reliability of the acceleration forces produced during the tackle were poor for both linear (ICC=0.21) and rotational (ICC=0.22) acceleration. No meaningful correlations (p≥0.05) were observed between the anthropometric variables and concussion history or the acceleration forces recorded at the head.
In the current study the peak linear acceleration experienced at the head was 87g, which is somewhat higher than what has been reported in tackle simulation in American football. Further investigation into head acceleration during game play is needed and in particular during the tackle situation.