The effects of tackle height on inertial loading of the head and neck in Rugby Union: A multibody model analysis

Brain Inj. 2017;31(13-14):1925-1931. doi: 10.1080/02699052.2017.1385853. Epub 2017 Oct 24.


Objective: There is evidence of chronic injury to the head-and-neck region of Rugby Union players. The aim of this study was to use multibody simulations to examine the effects of tackle height on both Tackler and Ball Carrier head kinematics and neck dynamics.

Research design: Quantitative Exploratory Study Methods and procedures: 45 front-on shoulder tackles with no direct contact to the head/neck were simulated with the MADYMO pedestrian model and used to assess differences between upper body tackles and lower body tackles. The average resultant head linear and angular accelerations as well as neck forces and moments were assessed.

Main outcomes and results: Much higher Ball Carrier head kinematic values and neck loading were predicted for upper body tackles compared to lower body tackles, and principal findings were unaffected by a sensitivity analysis. Tackler results were less straightforward and trends were influenced by the sensitivity analysis for muscle activation.

Conclusion: Although further model validation is required, the results of this study indicate the need for further research on tackle heights and inertial head-and-neck loading in the tackle phase of play in Rugby Union.

Keywords: Sport; biomechanics; rugby.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computer Simulation
  • Football / injuries*
  • Head / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neck / physiopathology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Torso / physiopathology
  • Video Recording
  • Weight-Bearing / physiology