Recently, after telling friends through work that Lions were investing in a PhD student, we were asked 'why?'.
We thought it was obvious... but we can see now that it probably is not to people who are outside the Lions Sports Academy bubble. So I thought I would write this short article to explain our decision in a bit of detail.
We are very fortunate to have a great team and work with some brilliant people at Lions. One of those is Lecturer Will Page, from St Mary’s University. Will and Lions have had many a chat about how we can bring current sports science principles to grassroots sport. Through the pandemic when our business, like many, ground to a halt, we had time to think and evaluate versus spending too much time running the business. It was through this process that we decided that more needed to be done in rugby to help deliver the tackle in a fun, engaging environment and hopefully reduce the chances of players getting injured, which will, in turn, keep players in the game for longer.
The idea originated from our most popular camp, the Transition To Contact for Under 9 (first year of tackling in rugby). Before the RFU out of season activity regulation, we were getting large numbers of players at rugby clubs to build their confidence in tackling before the season started. This not only increased confidence in the players but also the parents knowing that their child has spent time becoming a more competent tackler.
We have received many positive testimonials from parents following the tackle camps, where parent coaches observed skills to be far greater than other teams. It has also helped players stay in the game through increased confidence and acted as a recruitment tool for the club to increase their numbers, where for many rugby clubs the U9 age group can see a large loss of players. This has had us wondering for a while... could we provide a tackle programme to get tangible data and unwavering statistics that would show that implementing a tackling programme would increase confidence, skills and reduce the chances of injury. That way, we could deliver this into all age groups to help keep players at their clubs for longer.
Once we decided to explore this further, Will introduced us to Jamie Talent at St Mary’s and Mark Waldron from Swansea University, who manage the masters and PhD programmes for their respective Universities, to talk through what options we had. After a couple of long discussions, we decided that the PhD route would be the best option as this will provide us with 3 years of opportunity to gather information and test our theories before we finalise the project.
The aim of our study will be ‘To evaluate the efficacy of Lions' tackling and physical development programme in improving the skill, ability and attitude towards/perceptions of rugby practice’.
If you are a teacher from a school or a parent coach at a rugby club please feel free to get in touch to see how you can get involved.
Lastly, If you know of anyone who would be a good candidate for this role, then please share with them and ask them to click the link below:
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