It is not surprising that approximately 1 in 4 rugby players will be injured during the season. With each player performing on average 20- 40 tackles per match. Neck injuries being all too common, it is estimated that up to 25% of these are caused when players of differing levels of experience tackle.
There are particular traits that are identified to increase risk factors for rugby injuries, being part of a lower ranked or less skilled team within a division, playing a forward position, being tackled, and at the beginning of the season. Injury rates in Rugby are estimated to be almost three times higher than footballing injuries.
When Do Rugby Injuries Occur?
More than half of injuries occur during matches opposed to in training, and more often in the second half of the game when fatigue starts to kick in.
Which Positions Suffer the Most Injuries?
Hookers and flankers sustain the most injuries. Forwards positions are more frequently injured than backs because of their greater involvement in physical collisions and tackles. In the scrum, the locks are at greatest risk of facial cuts and cauliflower ear (external deformity to the ear caused by repeated blows. Players in rucks and mauls commonly suffer injuries to fingers and thumbs as well as abrasions and lacerations from cleats.
What Kinds of Injuries Occur in Rugby?
Over 40% of injuries are muscular strains or bruising, 30% are sprains, followed by dislocations, fractures (most commonly to the clavicle), lacerations, and overuse injuries. Sprained ankles are a common injury with ankle sprains representing almost 1 in 7 rugby injuries. Superficial injuries represent 20% of rugby injuries, followed by head injuries and sprains (16%). Of the head injuries approximately just less than half are concussions.
Pre-Season Preparation is Important
More injuries occur at the beginning of a season, suggesting that pre-season conditioning could reduce injuries. A pre-season conditioning program should gradually increase in intensity and duration to prepare athletes for competition.
Injury prevention strategies to reduce the incidence, severity and cost of rugby injuries could include coaching on defensive skills, correct tackling technique, correct falling technique and methods to minimise the absorption of impact forces in tackles