HomeRugbyAlix Popham: Contact coaching adjustments have to be obligatory, says ex-Wales ahead

Alix Popham: Contact coaching adjustments have to be obligatory, says ex-Wales ahead


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Former Welsh flanker Alix Popham believes reducing contact training must be mandatory at all levels of rugby union.

Popham who was was diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of only 40, says the change should be mandatory and should be implemented immediately.

“It has to happen now,” he said.

Popham, 41, is one of a group of former rugby union players – including English world champion Steve Thompson – who have brought charges against rugby union authorities for negligence.

The group has called for people to reduce their physical level outside of match days.

World Rugby boss Alan Gilpin says the new guidelines reflect the governing body’s “ambition to promote the welfare of players at all levels”.

While the guidance is expected to be followed throughout the sport, Popham says there should be no choice.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but I think it has to be mandatory like the NFL did 11 years ago,” he told BBC Radio Wales.

“I think guidelines, they are not going to follow them when a team is under pressure and missed a lot of tackles over the weekend. That’s when the pressure comes on the coaches and things will go beyond those 15 minutes.”

“I think there were teams in the NFL that found themselves in this situation who would go through the extra contact sessions to get the news and be fined for it.

“I think it has to be mandatory at all levels from grassroots to professional teams.”

World Rugby is set to monitor and review the implementation of the guidelines, with governing body numbers indicating that training load limits will soon be imposed and teams will be required to follow the guidelines in order to compete in the 2023 Rugby World Cup.



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