We fund research into the causes and outcomes of catastrophic injury, identifying the best way to prevent and respond to these injuries. We also input into training courses for rugby coaches, players, referees and volunteers to protect players from catastrophic injury, as well as providing first aid kits to clubs.

The IPF supports research which aims to reduce the incidence or impact of catastrophic injury within rugby union. Working closely with academic partners, we look to better understand how and why catastrophic spinal injuries happen, identifying the best way to manage and respond to such injuries, so we can work to prevent them in future.

Currently there are two main projects under way with Bath University;

1. Catastrophic injury (CI) surveillance: This project is investigating the causes of each catastrophic injury which occurs in a rugby union match or training session in England (including historical catastrophic injuries) and reports on any commonalities or suggested methods of prevention to benefit the whole rugby community.

2. SCI mechanism: This project has been running for three years to improve our understanding of the forces involved and the way in which spinal cord injury occurs within the body under a variety of conditions as part of playing rugby, such as a scrum or tackle. By modelling the reaction of the spine to the forces involved within the game, we aim to better understand how to prevent such injuries from occurring in future.

All of this research is shared with our national governing body, the RFU, and published in peer reviewed scientific journals to achieve the maximum benefit possible. The RFU uses this information and IPF staff expertise in the development of its coach and referee education programmes, and in the development of the Rugby Safe programme.


Research Submissions

The IPF is developing its research strategy and wishes to hear from interested researchers with the capability to contribute to its vision of all IPF clients leading the life that they wish to lead and the rugby union game being played without catastrophic injuries occurring.

The current research priorities within this area include projects which aim to:

  • help prevent or manage spinal cord and/or traumatic brain injury within rugby
  • have a direct positive impact on the independence of IPF clients
  • provide a “proof of concept” and/or evaluation of effectiveness of current IPF interventions

We are especially interested in hearing from researchers who are seeking partnership funding, and/or collaborative support. Please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..





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