Rugby: Wallabies coach questions new World Rugby contact guidance

Wallabies' head coach Dave Rennie monitoring the players during the captain's run at the Royal Pines Resort in Gold Coast on Sept 11, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

BRISBANE (AFP) - Wallabies coach Dave Rennie on Thursday (Sept 23) questioned new World Rugby guidance capping how much full-contact training teams can do, suggesting it could be detrimental and hard to police.

The sport's governing body has recommended a maximum of 15 minutes full-contact training per week, across two days, in a bid to reduce injuries following a global study on almost 600 players.

Mondays and Fridays would have zero full-contact training to allow for recovery and preparation.

Controlled contact training was recommended to have a 40-minute limit per week. That would include at least one day of zero contact, while live set-piece training would be no more than 30 minutes a week.

Rennie, who said he was still digesting the guidance, which is not mandatory, estimated the Wallabies did eight minutes of contact work on Tuesday, and said a 15-minute weekly cap could be hard to implement.

"Who's timing it? I'm sure there's a lot of work gone into coming up with these numbers but I'm not certain how that will pan out," he said ahead of Saturday's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina in Townsville.

"Thirty-five to 40 percent of injuries happen at training, which means 60 to 65 happen at games.

"And you have to make sure from a training point of view you're getting the conditioning and contact load into them (players) so that they can deal with it on game day and have the technique required," he added.

"There's focus around reducing injuries but the most important thing is ensuring our athletes have the skills and knowledge to deal with the contact."

All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he was unaware of the guidelines when questioned ahead of his team's weekend clash with world champions South Africa, also in Townsville, Australia.

"It's the first I've heard of that. Fifteen minutes would be about right, would be my gut feel," he said. "It depends what you classify as full contact but it sounds about right to me."

Elite club teams such as Leinster and Clermont have signed up and partnered with World Rugby to measure the effect of the guidelines by using specific mouthguards to monitor implementation and measure the outcomes.

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster was on World Rugby's advisory group for contact load along with former All Black Conrad Smith, now head of player welfare at the governing body.

"We have a responsibility to make the game as safe as possible for all our players," Lancaster said.

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