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Fully Funded PhD Studentship: World Rugby and Leeds Beckett University 'Quantifying Contact Load in Rugby Union: An international collaboration'

   The School of Sport

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  Prof BJ Jones, Dr Gregory Roe  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

World Rugby and the Carnegie School of Sport are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to undertake a PhD studentship 'Quantifying Contact Load in Rugby Union: An international collaboration'

  • Full-time sponsored PhD Studentship (UK Fees & Stipend)
  • Start date - April 2023

The PhD studentship will receive a bursary of £17,668 per annum (pro-rata into 12 monthly payments) plus UK Fees paid initially for a period of three years.

Leeds Beckett University and World Rugby are looking to recruit a highly motivated individual to join the research team at Leeds Beckett University, to work on an existing research project with the Currie Cup, South Africa. The PhD studentship will involve working alongside a leading international multidisciplinary research team and governing body to deliver a large-scale impactful research project. The candidate will also be part of the research team and have access to the world-class facilities at the Carnegie School of Sport, including the £45 million new build.

The quality of Carnegie School of Sport research is evident in the outstanding results achieved in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework, where we ranked 2nd nationally when accounting for both research quality and the number of contributing staff (Sport and Exercise Sciences, Leisure and Tourism). Within the Carnegie School of Sport, the Carnegie Applied Rugby Research (CARR) centre, led by Prof. Ben Jones and Prof. Kevin Till, undertakes high quality applied research with international and national governing bodies, and a range of professional sports teams. The CARR centre has over 60 researchers, working collaboratively to improve athlete welfare and performance. 

Research Team; Professor Ben Jones (Principal Investigator; [Email Address Removed]), Dr Greg Roe (Project Lead; [Email Address Removed]), Dr James Brown (all Leeds Beckett University), Dr Sharief Hendricks (University of Cape Town), Professor Keith Stokes (University of Bath), Lindsay Starling, Prof. Ross Tucker, Dr Éanna Falvey (World Rugby), Dr Greg Tierney (Ulster University), Clint Readhead (South Africa Rugby Union).

Quantifying Contact Load in Rugby Union: An international collaboration 

Rugby union is a contact sport, whereby players are required to engage in repeated physical contacts during training and match play. Within training, players are exposed to technical, tactical and physical collision loading, to safely prepare players for match play and competition demands. The contact load exposure during training and match play requires accurate quantification of both head acceleration events and body impacts, which is possible via the application of instrumented mouthguards and video analysis. Understanding which, and how specific activities contribute to both head acceleration events and body impacts can inform contact load guidance in rugby union.

This project will work collaboratively with World Rugby and practitioners within the Currie Cup (South Africa) teams. Each Currie Cup team will have a dedicated sports scientist, responsible for the instrumented mouthguards, who will be managed by Dr Greg Roe at Leeds Beckett University. The research project will use instrumented mouthguard data, alongside video footage to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the contact load rugby union players are exposed to, and will look to provide clear guidance on how body impacts and head accelerations (differentiating both magnitude and frequency) accumulate for rugby union players.

The successful candidate should have excellent data management and analysis skills and be competent using programming software (e.g., R, Python) to manage large data sets. This project will use instrumented mouthguard data from all teams to establish the head acceleration exposures. In addition, the successful candidate will be required to undertake video analysis of training and competition footage to quantify the nature and frequency of contacts. A background or experience in data science or computer science, or clear willingness to learn these skills would be advantageous for this project. 

The candidates will be expected to be based in Leeds, working both independently and collaboratively as part of a broader research team.

Applicants are encouraged to discuss their applications and project proposals with Professor Ben Jones ([Email Address Removed]) and Dr Greg Roe ([Email Address Removed])

Information on how to apply can be found here

Funding Notes

Funding will consist of UK full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at UK Research Council rates (£17,668 per annum pro-rata into 12 monthly payments). Funding will be subject to satisfactory progress.
A laptop will be provided and the opportunity to apply for funding to support the research project.
If you are applying from outside the UK it is important that you are aware of the entry and additional fee requirements. Before you apply please contact colleagues in our LBU Graduate School [Email Address Removed] for further information, to discuss the requirements and your application.


Cross, M. J., Tucker, R., Raftery, M., Hester, B., Williams, S., Stokes, K. A., Ranson, C., Mathema, P., & Kemp, S. (2019). Tackling concussion in professional rugby union: a case-control study of tackle-based risk factors and recommendations for primary prevention. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 53(16), 1021–1025.
Gardner, A. J., Iverson, G. L., Edwards, S., & Tucker, R. (2021). A Case-Control Study of Tackle-Based Head Injury Assessment (HIA) Risk Factors in the National Rugby League. Sports medicine - Open, 7(1), 84.
Hendricks, S., Till, K., den Hollander, S., Savage, T. N., Roberts, S. P., Tierney, G., Burger, N., Kerr, H., Kemp, S., Cross, M., Patricios, J., McKune, A. J., Bennet, M., Rock, A., Stokes, K. A., Ross, A., Readhead, C., Quarrie, K. L., Tucker, R., & Jones, B. (2020). Consensus on a video analysis framework of descriptors and definitions by the Rugby Union Video Analysis Consensus group. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 54(10), 566–572.
Stokes, K. A., Locke, D., Roberts, S., Henderson, L., Tucker, R., Ryan, D., & Kemp, S. (2021). Does reducing the height of the tackle through law change in elite men's rugby union (The Championship, England) reduce the incidence of concussion? A controlled study in 126 games. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 55(4), 220–225.
Jones, B., Tooby, J., Weaving, D., Till, K., Owen, C., Begonia, M., Stokes, K. A., Rowson, S., Phillips, G., Hendricks, S., Falvey, É. C., Al-Dawoud, M., & Tierney, G. (2022). Ready for impact? A validity and feasibility study of instrumented mouthguards (iMGs). British Journal of Sports Medicine, bjsports-2022-105523. Advance online publication.
Tooby, J., Weaving, D., Al-Dawoud, M., & Tierney, G. (2022). Quantification of Head Acceleration Events in Rugby League: An Instrumented Mouthguard and Video Analysis Pilot Study. Sensors (Basel, Switzerland), 22(2), 584.
Tucker, R., Raftery, M., Fuller, G. W., Hester, B., Kemp, S., & Cross, M. J. (2017). A video analysis of head injuries satisfying the criteria for a head injury assessment in professional Rugby Union: a prospective cohort study. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(15), 1147–1151.
Tucker, R., Raftery, M., Kemp, S., Brown, J., Fuller, G., Hester, B., Cross, M., & Quarrie, K. (2017). Risk factors for head injury events in professional rugby union: a video analysis of 464 head injury events to inform proposed injury prevention strategies. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(15), 1152–1157.
World Rugby. 2021. Contact Training Load guidelines [Online].

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