Rugby injuries from the perspective of a Sports Chiropractor
Match injuries – Part 1- General incidence
Following the articles regarding risk factors to injury within rugby union we will now have a look at injuries that occur specific to match play. Again, I will try to add a different perspective as a sports chiropractor. Before we get into what the research tells us, what do you think the top 5 match play injuries would be? Lower back pain for forwards? Calf pain for backs? Shoulder pain for flankers? Knee pain for locks? Neck pain for front rowers? Hamstring injuries or sciatica for outside backs? As a sports chiropractor, knowing what injuries are more likely to occur in different positions can help me tailor a injury prevention strategy that will allow players more time on the field, and less time on the sidelines. Lets firstly have a general look at incidence of match injuries in rugby union.
The overall incidence of injury varied between 75 and 96.3 injuries per 1000 player-hours for 15 man rugby matches (Fuller, Laborde et al. 2008, Fuller, Raftery et al. 2009) (Chalmers, Samaranayaka et al. 2012) (England Rugby Premiership Injury and Training Audit Steering group 2012). Age grade tournaments such as the Junior World Cup and Junior World Rugby Trophy varied between 20 and 55 injuries per 1000 player-hours (Fuller and Taylor 2011) and Sevens rugby tournaments had a higher injury rate of between 101.5 and 106.2 injuries per 1000 player-hours (Fuller and Taylor 2011) (Fuller, Taylor et al. 2010)
Brooks et al, 2005 found that the incidence of new injuries was significantly higher than that of recurrent injuries, and that recurrent injuries accounted for 18% of total injuries. Recurrent injuries were significantly more severe than new injuries for both forwards and backs (Brooks, Fuller et al. 2005).
Days lost through injury varied between an average 13.4 and 45 days (Brooks, Fuller et al. 2005) (Fuller and Taylor 2011, England Rugby Premiership Injury and Training Audit Steering group 2012) (Fuller, Laborde et al. 2008) (Fuller, Raftery et al. 2009) (Fuller and Taylor 2011) (Fuller, Taylor et al. 2010).
One dataset indicated that minor injuries (0 to 7 days absence) accounted for 54% of injuries, moderate injuries (1 to 3 weeks absence) accounted for 26% of injuries, and major injuries (3+ weeks absence) accounted for 20% of injuries (Brooks, Fuller et al. 2005).
Most injuries (72%) were sustained during contact with another player. (Brooks, Fuller et al. 2005). Tackles were responsible for the greatest loss of time due to injury, however the scrum and collisions presented the highest risk per event (Fuller, Brooks et al. 2007).
There were no significant differences between forwards and backs with respect to the incidence or severity of new or recurrent injuries (Brooks, Fuller et al. 2005). Brooks et al, 2005 found that the overall incidence of non-contact injuries was significantly higher for backs than forwards (Brooks, Fuller et al. 2005).
If you are a player or coach and reading this series of articles you may save yourself a couple of trips to your friendly sports chiropractor and avoid the common complaints of lower back pain, shoulder pain or neck pain by being more careful and investing training time into high risk areas of the game such as the contact. I hope this article has also been a helpful preview to match injuries, the next article will look at specific match day injuries and incidence of common injuries by player position.
Brooks, J. H. M., et al. (2005). “Epidemiology of injuries in English professional rugby union: part 1 match injuries.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 39(10): 757-766.
Chalmers, D. J., et al. (2012). “Risk factors for injury in rugby union football in New Zealand: a cohort study.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 46(2): 95-102.
England Rugby Premiership Injury and Training Audit Steering group (2012). England Rugby Premiership injury and Training audit 2010-2011 season Report, England Rugby Union.
Fuller, C. and A. Taylor (2011). IRB Injury Surveillance Study, HSBC Sevens World Series 2010/11, International Rugby Board.
Fuller, C. W., et al. (2007). “Contact events in rugby union and their propensity to cause injury.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 41(12): 862-867.
Fuller, C. W., et al. (2008). “International Rugby Board Rugby World Cup 2007 injury surveillance study.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 42(6): 452-459.
Fuller, C. W., et al. (2009). “Match injuries in Southern Hemisphere professional rugby union: Impact of the International Rugby Board’s Experimental Law Variations.” South African Medical Journal 99(4).
Fuller, C. W. and A. Taylor (2011). IRB Injury Surveillance Study: U-20 Tournaments: JWC and JWRT 2011, International Rugby Board.
Fuller, C. W., et al. (2010). “Epidemiological Study of Injuries in International Rugby Sevens.” Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 20(3): 179-184 110.1097/JSM.1090b1013e3181df1091eea.