England snaps up top SA rugby scientist


SA Rugby research scientist and RugbyRocks.com contributor Lindsay Starling will be furthering her career with the Rugby Football Union in England. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.

The 26-year-old co-ordinates SA Rugby’s injury surveillance projects, which includes collecting injury information on South African rugby players, from the national men’s and women’s teams to school boys and girls at the various Youth Weeks.

The data Starling collects helps assist teams with their injury-prevention management, address their injury-related concerns and – over a longer period – implement injury prevention measures.

‘All this work has a player-welfare focus, ensuring the longevity of players and the sport as a whole,’ Starling explains. ‘Obviously, taking part in rugby comes with a high injury risk, so all the work I do is about trying to reduce that risk.

‘All this information is fed to World Rugby and used on a global level to help develop injury-prevention measures aimed at making the game safer for all involved.’

Starling never planned to work in rugby. She did a BSc in Human Physiology and Biochemistry and her honours and masters degrees in Exercise Science, which had an athlete monitoring focus.

‘Injury prevention is part of all sports, but I gravitated towards rugby because I grew up in a rugby-loving family and the sport was always part of my life,’ she says.

Starling will soon leave Cape Town to do her PhD at the University of Bath. It is being fully funded by the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby.

‘The PhD will be epidemiological in nature, looking to understand injuries in rugby union and develop injury prevention measures,’ she explains. ‘The RFU and Premiership Rugby have the largest and longest-running injury surveillance project in the world. My PhD will form part of that project and focus on the development of player welfare initiatives in professional rugby.’

READ: Lindsay’s Currie Cup injury research report

Starling will also work for the RFU while doing her PhD.

‘I’ll be coordinating and running their injury surveillance, specifically in the Premiership competition and the England men’s and women’s national teams.’

– RugbyRocks.com is thrilled to have Lindsay on board as a regular contributor. Look out for her insightful articles and videos from the UK. Follow her @Starling_Linds.