World Rugby and International Rugby Players (IRP) have published new contact training guidelines aimed at reducing the risk of injury and supporting player welfare.
The introduction follows global consultation, including feedback from almost 600 players across elite men’s and women’s competitions, as well as and input from medical and performance, and strength and conditioning professionals.
The new guidelines set out an advised weekly limit of 15 minutes full-contact training, 40 minutes of controlled contact and 30 minutes of live set-piece training.
Joe Schmidt, World Rugby director of rugby and high performance and former Ireland head coach, said: "Training has increasingly played an important role in injury prevention as well as performance.
"While there is a lot less full-contact training than many people might imagine, it is our hope that having a central set of guidelines will further inform players and coaches of key considerations for any contact that is done during training."
While not mandatory, World Rugby says it expects the guidelines to be adopted at all levels of the game, with Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster – whose side has signed up to the trial measuring their training - pointing out the benefits of a reduced training load on performance.
"We have a responsibility to make the game as safe as possible for all our players," said Lancaster.
"For coaches, optimising training plays a significant role in achieving that objective. It is important that we do not overdo contact load across the week in order that players are fresh, injury-free and ready for match days."
The guidelines are in line with World Rugby's six-point plan, released in July, aiming to cement rugby as the most progressive sport for athlete welfare.
The governing body will continually monitor and review the implementation of the guidance and its impact on injury rates. If everything goes to plan, World Rugby figures hope that limits on training could soon be mandated as early as the 2023 Rugby World Cup.