Scientists have given the thumbs up to the BokSmart intervention programme – an initiative that aims to teach South African rugby players how to play the game with gusto without causing too many injuries to themselves or others.
This national injury prevention programme was introduced in South African in 2009, partly because rugby players have an above-average risk of injury compared to other popular sports.
A group of researchers from the University of Cape Town and the VU University Medical Centre in the Netherlands assessed whether the programme helped to improve rugby player behaviour. They did so by asking under 18 and senior players who attended top tournament between 2008 and 2012 to fill in anonymous questionnaires. In all, 2279 junior players from 111 teams and 1642 senior players from 81 teams filled these in.
It was found that the programme helped to improve nine (or 50%) of the 18 target areas. Most of these are aimed at avoiding catastrophic injuries, for instance through changes in tackling, rucking and scrumming techniques. Mouth guards were used more often, while the players tended to avoid alcohol more. They were also more focused on cooling down after training or after match day.
“Boksmart is associated with improvements in targeted injury-preventing behaviours in players,” says James Brown, lead author of the study in Injury Prevention.
Reference: Brown, J. C. et al (2014). The BokSmart intervention programme is associated with improvements in injury prevention behaviour of rugby union players: and ecological cross-sectional study, Injury Prevention