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UK Rugby Health

How's the mind and body holding up now that you've retired from rugby?

If you are a retired rugby player or non-contact sports athlete, or someone aged 30 years or over who has never taken part in competitive sport post school, we need your help to find out more about the long-term health implications of playing rugby – and it’s all for the good of the game.

This is the first international study of it's kind. The findings will be combined with those from the recently completed New Zealand Rugby Health project and with our collaborators in Canada,in an international effort for large scale evidence on player health post-retirement. This information will be shared with World Rugby and national governing bodies. By participating, you’ll be making a vital contribution to the welfare of future generations of rugby players.

(Just in case you're wondering... by 'retired' we mean from regular matches and training, the occasional game is fine).

All participants will be entered into a prize draw to win £350. There are three runner up prizes of a sports team shirt of your choice. Terms and Conditions

In addition to completing the online questionnaires, you can attend a free clinical evaluation at the Carnegie Research Institute, Headingley Campus, at Leeds Beckett University for a more in-depth assessment of your health. For more information about what is involved in all parts of the study, please see the menu below or contact us.

This project is medical research, so if you want to take part we will need you to complete a consent form, confidentiality is assured. You will be asked to complete the two online questionnaires, which should take 20-30 minutes each.

If you would like to talk to someone before taking part please contact:
Dr Karen Hind -
or Ian Entwistle -

Who are we looking for?
  1. Retired* professional / semi professional / international rugby union or rugby league players currently aged 30 years or over.
  2. Retired* amateur rugby union or rugby league players currently aged 30 years or over.
  3. Retired athletes from non-contact sports, aged 30 years or over.
  4. People who have never competed in organised sport post school and who are aged 30 years or over.

*This study is designed for retired players only, players still actively involved in playing rugby are not eligible to participate. Occasional players are welcome to participate.

Why are we doing the research?

A life of playing rugby provides so many benefits – for some it’s a career, for all it’s about friendship, enjoyment, good health and fitness and a lifelong love of the game. Along the way, as with any physical pursuit, there are knocks, niggles and injuries – some more severe than others.

We all know that there are risks involved in playing rugby.

What we don’t know at the moment is the extent to which playing rugby affects players over the longer term - for better or worse. If we don’t know, we can’t maximise the benefits of being involved in the game, while minimising the risks. It is important to understand that the study is not just about concussions - it is a broad study of how people who played rugby are getting on later in life. We need people to enrol regardless of how they are getting on - whether they are happy and healthy or having difficulty with any aspect of their lives. The results of the UK project will be combined with results from a similar study in New Zealand to strengthen confidence in our findings.

What do you need to do?

We need you to complete the consent form. You will then be sent two online questionnaires by email, which will take about one hour of your time – a small investment but a big contribution to the future welfare of people involved in rugby.

There is also the opportunity to visit our research institute at Leeds Beckett University for a Clinical Health Evaluation, or if you are in Canada, the University of Regina Concussion Testing Centre and the University of Victoria CARSA Varsity Injury Clinic. A convenient appointment will be made and it will take a maximum of 2 hours. You will receive full and immediate feedback of your individual results.

  1. Complete the consent form.
  2. Part A: Brain and Nervous System Health Survey, CNS Vital Signs Test.
    This survey will give us measures of visual and verbal memory, information processing speed, attention, reaction time and other important brain health measures and will take around 30 minutes.
  3. Part B: General Health Questionnaire
    This questionnaire has sections on physical health, mental health, alcohol, and social relationships and should take 20-30 minutes.
  4. Part C: Clinical Health Evaluation

We will arrange a convenient appointment to you. The evaluation includes: 

UK Clinic:

Bone, joint and body composition evaluation by state-of-the-art dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), Neuromuscular assessment, Cardiometabolic assessment by blood test and electrocardiogram (ECG), Prefrontal cortex neurovascular assessment.

Canada Clinic:

Cardiometabolic assessment by blood test and electrocardiogram (ECG), Prefrontal cortex neurovascular assessment.

Total visit time: 3-5 hours (maximum). Free car parking is available.

*Please note: you must complete the consent form and questionnaires before arranging this appointment.

Which organisations are involved in the research?

The project involves the Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University, the AUT University Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ), and the Division of Applied Medicine, University of Aberdeen, the University of Regina and the University of Victoria, Canada. The project is kindly supported by NATUS Neurocom Sports Balance Systems, Tekscan and Biosense. Results will be reported to World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Rugby Football League governing bodies.

Who are the people involved in conducting the research?
  • Dr Karen Hind (Lead Investigator, UK Rugby Health Project)
    Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University.

  • Professor Patria Hume (Lead investigator, NZ Rugby Health Project)
    Professor, Human Performance, Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, AUT University

  • Ian Entwistle
    PhD student (musculoskeletal health), Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University

  • Dr Athanassios Bissas
    Head of Biomechanics, School of Sport, Carnegie Faculty, Leeds Beckett University

  • Dr Costas Tsakirides
    Senior Lecturer (Cardiometabolic Health), School of Sport, Carnegie Faculty, Leeds Beckett University
    Costas Tsakirides

  • Dr Michelle Mellis
    Senior Lecturer (Cardiometabolic Health), School of Sport, Carnegie Faculty, Leeds Beckett University
    Michelle Mellis

  • Professor Patrick Neary,
    University of Regina, Canada
    Photo of Professor Peter Neary


  • Professor Clive Beggs
    Professor of Applied Physiology, School of Sport, Carnegie Faculty, Leeds Beckett University
    Professor Clive Beggs

  • Dr Peter Francis
    Senior Lecturer, Clinical and Applied Sciences, Faculty of Health, Leeds Beckett University
    Dr Peter Francis

  • Dr Alice Theadom
    Deputy Director, National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neuroscience, Auckland University of Technology
    Dr Alice Theadom

  • Dr Gwyn Lewis
    Auckland University of Technology

  • Professor Richard Aspden (Collaborator)
    Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery, Division of Applied Medicine, University of Aberdeen

  • Dr Doug King
    Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist, Emergency Department, Hutt Valley District Health Board and Research Associate, Rugby Codes Group, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand


The official launch date of the UK Rugby Health Project was Thursday 15th September 2016. Read the press release.