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Does the new rugby union scrum sequence positively influence the hooker's in situ spinal kinematics?
  1. Ramesh Swaminathan1,
  2. Jonathan M Williams2,
  3. Michael D Jones1,
  4. Peter S Theobald1
  1. 1Bioengineering Research Group, School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Cardiff, South Glamorgan, UK
  2. 2Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, Dorset, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peter S Theobald; TheobaldPS{at}


Background Scrummaging is unique to rugby union and involves 2 ‘packs’ of 8 players competing to regain ball possession. Intending to serve as a quick and safe method to restart the game, injury prevalence during scrummaging necessitates further evaluation of this environment.

Aims The aim of this study was to determine the effect of scrummage engagement sequences on spinal kinematics of the hooker. The conditions investigated were: (1) live competitive scrummaging using the new ‘crouch, bind, set’ sequence; (2) live competitive scrummaging using the old ‘crouch touch pause engage’ sequence and (3) training scrummaging using a scrum machine.

Methods Inertial sensors provided three-dimensional kinematic data across 5 spinal regions. Participants (n=29) were adult, male community club and university-level hookers.

Results Engagement sequence had no effect on resultant kinematics of any spinal region. Machine scrummaging resulted in lesser magnitudes of motion in the upper spinal regions. Around two-thirds of the total available cervical motion was utilised during live scrummaging.

Conclusions This study indicates that the most recent laws do not influence the spinal kinematics of the hooker during live scrummaging; however, there may be other benefits from these law changes that fall outside the scope of this investigation.

  • Rugby
  • Spine
  • Biomechanics

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