A prospective epidemiological study of injuries to New Zealand premier club
rugby union players
Anthony G. Schneidersa,*, Masahiro Takemurab, Craig A. Wassingera
aSchool of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, 325 Great King Street, Dunedin, Otago 9001, New Zealand
bGraduate School of Human Comprehensive Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan
a r t i c l e i n f o
Received 15 February 2009
Received in revised form
15 April 2009
Accepted 11 May 2009
a b s t r a c t
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to document and analyse injuries sustained in premier grade
rugby union over a competitive season and investigate the seasonal trend of injury incidence.
Design: A prospective epidemiological cohort study of injury.
Setting: Field-based collection of match-play injury data.
Participants: Two-hundred and seventy-one players from eight premier grade rugby union teams.
Main outcome measures: Injury incidence as a function of exposure and match round including
descriptive statistical analysis of injury characteristics.
Results: Injury incidence during the season was 52 injuries per 1000 player-match hours (95% CI: 42–65).
Poisson regression demonstrated a significant decrease in injury rate by 2% for each successive round
throughout the season (p<0.04). Most injuries were sustained during the tackle resulting in soft tissue
injuries to the lower limb.
Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate an early season bias of injuries. The majority of
injuries were classified as ‘slight’ with players returning to training or play within two days. The tackle
was the phase of play which produced the most injuries consistent with previous research. Compared to
analogous data collected 10 years previously, injury incidence of a similar cohort was considerably
? 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Sport participation as a form of exercise is considered essential
for promoting physical activity and health, and is advocated as
a preventative measure for many illnesses (Finch, Owen, & Price,
2001). While encouraging participation in sport or physical activity
is considered important, increased participation also increases the
incidence of sports-related injury (Waller, Feehan, Marshall, &
Chalmers, 1994). With injury or disability reported as a barrier to
participation (Finch et al., 2001), it is vital to conduct regular
epidemiological studies in order to assess causal links between risk
factors and injuries, and to inform decisions on therapeutic and
preventive interventions (Brooks, Fuller, Kemp, & Reddin, 2006).
The first step in identifying issues of public health concern,
including sports and recreational injuries, is the gathering of inci-
dence statistics (Marshall & Guskiewicz, 2003).
Rugby union is one of the most popular and prominent football
sports in the world with almost 200 countries affiliated with the
International Rugby Board (Kemp, Hudson, Brooks, & Fuller, 2008).
Rugby union has one of the highest levels of injuries of all team
sports (Nicholl, Coleman, & Williams, 1995), and contributes the
largest number of injuries of any sport in New Zealand that result in
compensation claims, accident and emergency visits, and hospi-
talisation (ACC, 2002; Dixon, 1993; Hume & Marshall, 1994).
While recent studies have focused on professional, elite and
international rugby (Bathgate, Best, Craig, & Jamieson, 2002; Best,
McIntosh, & Savage, 2005; Brooks, Fuller, Kemp, & Reddin, 2005;
Doyle & George, 2004; McManus & Cross, 2004; Quarrie & Hopkins,
2008; Targett, 1998) only 0.2% of players in New Zealand are
professional (Gianotti, Hume, Hopkins, Harawira, & Truman, 2008).
The ease and convenience of sampling elite players since the start
of professionalism in rugby might lead to a bias in injury reporting.
Studying the impact of rugby injuries at a professional level may
therefore not demonstrate a true representation of the social and
economic impact that rugby has on society. The majority of rugby is
played at the amateur level and the incidence of injury, although
* Corresponding author. Tel.: þ64 3 479 5426; fax: þ64 3 479 8414.
E-mail address: email@example.com (A.G. Schneiders).
Contents lists available at ScienceDirect
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Physical Therapy in Sport 10 (2009) 85–90
suggested to be lower, likely represents the highest financial and
social cost to society. Amateur play is also targeted for public health
initiatives, including injury prevention strategies, as all players
progress through this environment.
A continuing criticism of epidemiological studies is the change
in definitions. Previous epidemiological rugby injury research is
difficult to compare primarily because of different definitions of
injury, severity, player exposure time and other methodological
considerations (Fuller et al., 2007). To resolve these issues,
a consensus statement has been established by the Rugby Injury
Consensus Group (RICG) which provides operational definitions
and methodologies for future studies of injuries in rugby union
(Fuller et al., 2007). While a consensus is important to establish
standardisation of definitional issues, it does not necessarily allow
comparisons to past studies, particularly seminal studies in rugby
union (Bird et al., 1998; Gerrard, Waller, & Bird, 1994; Waller et al.,
The Rugby Injury and Performance Project (RIPP) was a large
prospective cohort study conducted in Dunedin, New Zealand in
1992 and published in a series of papers (Bird et al., 1998; Gerrard
et al.,1994; Waller et al.,1994). The project was designed to identify
risk and protective factors for rugby injury (Waller et al., 1994). As
a result of these studies, rugby injury prevention programs have
been developed to address the high level of associated injury
(Chalmers, Simpson, & Depree, 2004). In order to ascertain these
programs’ effectiveness it is important that independent reviews of
injury incidence are conducted on a regular basis.
The purpose of this study was to document and analyse injuries
sustained in premier grade rugby union over a competitive season
and investigate the seasonal trend of injury incidence. A secondary
aim was to conduct a 10-year follow up of components of the RIPP
study describing the incidence, severity, mechanism and aetiology
of rugby injuries in Dunedin, New Zealand.
The study was designed as a prospective cohort observational
study of match injuries sustained by participants in premier (A-
grade) club rugby competition in Dunedin, New Zealand. Premier
club rugby is the highest level of non-representative, non-profes-
sional rugby union in New Zealand, and participants in the study
were drawn from a base population of registered players who
played one or more games during the 2002 season. Ten teams were
involved in a round-robin competition with 99 games scheduled
over 20 weeks.
Injury definitions used in this study were retroactively modified
in an attempt to comply with the consensus statement on reporting
injuries in rugby union (Fuller et al., 2007). Rugby players were
recruited into the study when injured, and an injury was defined as
any physical event that occurred during a match that required
a player to seek medical attention from a team doctor, physio-
therapist and/or sports medic (medical attention injury), or miss at
least one scheduled game or team training (time-loss injury).
Injury surveillance and data collection was undertaken by
a physiotherapist and/or sports medic associated with each team
who attended each match and training session. Match exposure for
each player was sourced from official records prior to each match
and verified on match day by team management. Exposure calcu-
lations were based on 80 min of game time for 15 player positions
per team. Each match therefore resulted in 40 player-hours. The
current study provides detailed information regarding injuries
from related research assessing the affects of ground hardness on
injury incidence (Takemura, Schneiders, Bell, & Milburn, 2007).
Injury and associated data were collected by an administered
survey. These were completed by both the player and either the
researchers. The survey included player demographic information,
team position, mechanism of injury, phase of play, stage of game,
and the nature of the injury (including type, site, and severity).
Surveys werecollected weeklyfromthe team physiotherapists and/
or sports medics and verified by the researchers. The Orchard
Sports Injury Classification System (Orchard, 1995) was used to
Information regarding return to play was used to determine
injury severity and an injured player was considered to have
recovered when they returned to play or training without restric-
tion. Injury severity was classified as follows: ‘slight’ (0–1 days),
‘minimal’ (2–3 days), ‘mild’ (4–7 days), ‘moderate’ (8–28 days),
‘severe’ (>28 days), ‘career ending’, and ‘non-fatal catastrophic’
(Fuller et al., 2007). ‘Season ending’ injuries were also tabulated.
Information collected was coded and entered into a Microsoft
Excel? database and exported to the Statistical Package for Social
Sciences (SPSS?) Version 14.0. Descriptive statistics, frequency
tables and injury incidence per 1000 player-match hours, including
95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated and Poisson regres-
sion was used to determine injury incidence as a function of round
when round was modelled continuously. Player characteristics
were tabulated as means and standard deviations (SD). The
following variables were examined: (a) player characteristics, (b)
exposure, (c) injury rate,(d) injury site, (e) injury type, (f) severityof
injury, (g) player position, (h) phase of play, (i) mechanism of injury,
(j) relationship to ball and, (k) injury chronology for game and
All participants provided informed consent and the study was
approved by the University of Otago Human Ethics Committee.
teamphysiotherapist, sportsmedic or project
Data collection commenced with the first round of the Dunedin
premier rugby competition. Initially ten teams were involved in the
study however due to lack of compliance with data collection two
teams were later excluded. Injury surveillance data were therefore
completed for 96 of the 99 matches during the season. From the
remaining eight teams there were a total of 271 players who played
one or more games during the season.
One-hundred and six players (Age 21.8?2.8 years; Height
181.5?6.3 cm; Weight 94.3?11.8 kg) were injured during the
season, and all injured players (100%) agreed to participate in the
study which provided data for a total of 164 injuries.
3.1. Exposure and injury rate
The season consisted of up to 20 games for each of the eight
teams with the total player game exposure totalling 3140 h. With
164 injuries recorded, the injury rate for the season was 52 injuries
per 1000 player-match hours (95% CI: 42–65). Of these 60 injuries
were ‘medical attention’ injuries and 104 were ‘time-loss’ injuries.
There were sixcareerending injuries and 13 season ending injuries.
Poisson regression demonstrated a statistically significant decrease
in injury incidence as a function of round with a rate ratio of 0.98
(95% CI: 0.96–0.99; p¼0.036). This implies that the rate of injury
decreased by 0.98 (or 2%) with each successive round. (Fig. 1).
3.2. Site of injury
The most common site of injury was the face (16%), followed by
the knee and the shoulder (both 14%) (Fig. 2), however, the majority
of facial injuries were classified as slight, consisting of lacerations,
bruises and epistaxis, compared to knee injuries where more than
half were classified as either moderate, severe, or season ending
A.G. Schneiders et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 10 (2009) 85–90 86
(Table 1). When the data was collapsed into broader anatomical
regions the lower limb (37%) accounted for the majority of injuries
3.3. Type and severity of injury
Table 1 depicts the relationship between type and severity of
injury and demonstrates that haematoma/bruising (21.3%), fol-
lowed by ligament tear/sprain (20.7%) and muscle tear/strain
(14.6%) were the most common types of injuries encountered. Nine
of the 164 injuries were diagnosed as concussion (5.5%). The ‘other’
category included lacerations and epitaxes, and collectively had the
largest percentage of injuries (22.6%). Injury severity was most
commonly reported as slight (35%) with 0–1 days before full return
to participation; 17% were classified as mild, 30% were classified as
moderate and 7% considered severe, with players in the latter
category unable to return to play for more than 28 days. Season
ending injuries were unable to be included in the calculation of
time-loss as there was no post season medical follow up related to
the study. No non-fatal catastrophic injuries occurred. Minimal
injuries (2–3 days lost) were not able to be verified from the orig-
inal data as follow up from match injuries did not occur until the
next training session (more than 3 days post match).
3.4. Mechanism of injury and phase of play
The most prevalent injury mechanism involved either tackling
or being tackled, and accounted for 47.9% of injuries. The phase of
play in which the most injuries occurred was attempting a tackle
(28.8%), followed by the ruck (22.1%), then being tackled (19.0%).
While the tackle accounted for almost half of all injuries (47.9%), set
pieces/plays (scrum and lineout) had the lowest combined injury
3.5. Player position
Descriptive terms for player positions in rugby union often
involve one term that describes up to two player positions (e.g.
prop, lock, flanker, winger, centre, etc.) and the tasks of players in
these positions are mostly similar and practically interchangeable.
In this study there were only small differences between playing
position and number of injuries sustained in the top four injury
prone positions. However, the full back was twice as likely to be
injured as the first five-eighth. There was little difference found in
overall injury rate between forwards and backs; the forwards
comprising of 53.3% of players and sustaining 56.1% of injuries,
whereas the backs comprised 46.7% of the players and accounted
for 43.9% of injuries.
3.6. Chronology of game and season injuries
First half injuries accounted for 44.5% of injuries sustained,
while 55.5% occurred in the second half. The third quarter was the
stage of the game where most injuries occurred (28.7%), almost 10%
more than in the first quarter (18.9%). The season was also assessed
via injury incidence per round (weekly). For comparative purposes
the 20 week season was divided into four quarters each of five
weeks duration. The injury ratewas higher in the first quarterof the
season (71/1000 player-match hours), decreasing in the second
Fig. 1. Injury incidence as a function of round.
Relationship between type of injury and severity.
Slight Mild Moderate Severe Season
Minor joint trauma
1799000 35 21.3
87 12232 34 20.7
28 4911 13164
Fig. 2. Injury site and frequency
A.G. Schneiders et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 10 (2009) 85–90 87
quarter and levelling out for each quarter of the second half of the
competition (42/1000 player-match hours). Round 5 of the
competition had an extremely high and atypical injury rate (144
injuries/1000 player-hours) and was therefore excluded in analysis,
as regression diagnostics showed it was an excessively influential
point. There was no obvious reason for this single, outstanding
van Mechelen described four steps in a ‘‘sequence of preven-
tion’’ model as it relates to athletic injuries; 1) Establishing the
extent of the sports injury problem, 2) Establishing the aetiology
and mechanism, 3) Introducing preventive measures, and 4)
Assessing the effectiveness of these preventive measures by
repeating step 1 (van Mechelen, Hlobil, & Kemper, 1992).
The primary aim of this study was describe the incidence,
severity, mechanism and aetiology of rugby injuries sustained
during premier club rugby union in Dunedin, New Zealand in 2002.
This study reports injury incidence from a cohort of premier rugby
players involved in the same competition as that investigated
a decade earlier (Quarrie et al., 2001). In the time between the two
studies there was a comprehensive national injury prevention
programme entitled ‘‘Tackling Rugby Injury’’ (TRI) introduced into
New Zealand rugby union in 1994 (Simpson et al., 1994). In 2001,
the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) renamed and relaunched
the programme as ‘RugbySmart’. As such, this current study
investigates the fourth step in the sequence of prevention model
(van Mechelen et al., 1992) by assessing the effectiveness of
preventive measures by reestablishing the extent of the sports
The overall injury rate observed in this study was 52 injuries per
1000 player-match hours which is equivalent to 1 injury per 19.23
player-match hours. When reported for ‘time loss’ injuries this
equatesto33 injuries per 1000 player-match hours. The overall rate
is similar to the injury rate described by Hughes and Fricker (1994)
of 49 injuries per 1000 player-match hours in first-grade/premier
rugby players. Previously reported injury rates in rugby union have
varied from 32 injuries per 1000 player-match hours (Jakoet &
Noakes,1998) to 218 injuries per 1000 player-match hours (Brooks
et al., 2005). These differences might be related to operational
definitions of injury, level of play, or actual differences in injury
rate. The current study exhibited an injury rate less than half that
reported in the study by Quarrie et al. (2001) (106/1000 player-
hours) for the same competition, using the same definitions, ten
years earlier (Dunedin Premier A-Grade Rugby). The injury inci-
dence in the current study only assessed and compared injuries
sustained during match play, whereas the study by Quarrie et al.
assessed both training and matchinjuries. Traininginjury incidence
has been consistently reported to be lower than during match play,
which would act to lower overall injury incidence rates (Brooks
et al., 2005; Hughes & Fricker, 1994). Therefore, the match injury
incidence reported by Quarrie et al. is likely to have been higher
than 106/1000 player-hours. The decrease in injury incidence in
this study, compared to the Quarrie study, may be related to the
inception of the TRI and RugbySmart injury prevention programs.
However, this change in injury incidence might also simply reflect
seasonal variation or an aberration in injury rates.
In this study the face was the most common site of injury, fol-
lowed by the knee and shoulder, which is in agreement with
previous reports (Bird et al., 1998; Garraway & Macleod, 1995;
Hughes & Fricker, 1994; Targett, 1998). Combined head and neck
trauma accounted for 35% of all injuries, which is slightly higher
than has been reported in previous studies (14–29%) (Bathgate
et al., 2002; Brooks et al., 2005; Jakoet & Noakes, 1998; Targett,
1998). Injuries to the face were commonly medical attention
injuries classified as cuts, lacerations orepitaxes and did notrestrict
participation. The lower limb collectively accounted for 37% of all
injuries in this current study, which is comparable to previous
reports of between 42% and 48% (Bird et al., 1998; Gerrard et al.,
1994; Hughes & Fricker, 1994; Miles, Simpson, Chalmers, & Allnatt,
2000). Concussion accounted for 5.5% of all injuries in this study,
whichis comparablewith Hughes and Fricker (1994), Garrawayand
Macleod (1995), and Kemp et al., 2008, while Targett (1998)
reported a higher rate at 10.2% in professional rugby players. It has
been suggested that reported concussion rates may be variable due
to difficulties in diagnosis (Marshall & Spencer, 2001), as well as the
consequences associated with reporting concussion, such as
mandatory stand-down rules/periods, return to play protocols and
sports exclusion (Law #10 Medical) (Best et al., 2005; Marshall &
Spencer, 2001). Reported concussion rates in professional players
may be higher compared to lower grade rugby due to close moni-
toring of players by the associated team doctor.
The most common injury diagnosis/classification in this study
was haematoma/bruising (21.3%), followed by ligament tear and
sprain (20.7%), then muscle strains and tears (14.6%). Bruising and
haematomas are common injuries in rugby where physical contact
is high and this study demonstrated results close to the 21–25%
found by Hughes and Fricker (1994) and Targett (1998). Ligament
sprains comprised 20.7% of injuries in the current study compared
with 16.3% and 36.6% in previous reports (Hughes & Fricker, 1994;
Targett, 1998). The number of muscle strains and tears (14.6%) is
lower than earlier studies where musculotendinous strains/tears
comprised 24.8% (Hughes & Fricker,1994), 28.6% (Targett,1998) and
44.7% (Fuller, Laborde, Leather, & Molloy, 2008) of all injuries (the
lower rate may be due to improved preparation such as a more
effective pre-match routine, or player education in regard to tack-
ling techniques). Several authors have reported ‘‘soft tissue
injuries’’ which collectively comprise musculotendinous strains
and tears, ligament sprains and tears, haematoma, and contusions
as accounting for greater than 50% of all injuries in rugby (Bathgate
et al., 2002; Brooks et al., 2005; Jakoet & Noakes, 1998; Targett,
1998). Using this combined definition, the current study found
a 56.6% rate of soft tissue injury.
This study used a sport specific measure of injury severity
related to the ability of the player to return to unrestricted play
(Bathgate et al., 2002; Fuller et al., 2007; Targett, 1998) and found
the majority of injuries were classified as slight 35.2%, with 17.0%
mild, 29.8% moderate, 6.6% severe, 7.8% season ending and 3.6%
career ending. More recently Brooks and colleagues reported 82% of
injuries in international competitionwere mild, with 10% moderate
and 8% severe. When the results of these studies are compared it
can be concluded that the majority of injuries sustained in rugby
union require the player to miss minimal match play. It would
appear that few injuries are severe enough to prevent play for
a substantial amount of time (>3 weeks) (Bathgate et al., 2002;
Brooks et al., 2005; Garraway, Lee, Hutton, Russell, & Macleod,
2000; Targett, 1998).
This study found contacting another player during tackling to be
the mechanism of injury in the majority of cases (47.8%). Other
categories also included some specific ‘contact’ phases such as
scrum, ruck, and maul. When all these contact mechanisms are
combined as one group the proportion becomes 74.4%. Although
Hughes and Fricker (1994) found a slightly higher rate of contact
injury (83.5%), this supports the notion that most injuries occur
when contacting another player. The current study found non-
contact mechanisms were responsible for 19.5% of all injuries. This
is similar to Hughes and Fricker (1994) who reported 16.5%. The
remaining injury mechanisms (6.1%) were classified as occurring
secondary to foul play, however this was indicated by the player
A.G. Schneiders et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 10 (2009) 85–9088
and no report of foul play was able to be verified by the match
The tackle phase was responsible for 47.8% of all injuries, fol-
lowed by rucks and mauls at 29.5%. Hughes and Fricker (1994),
Targett (1998), Bird et al. (1998) & Bathgate et al. (2002) also found
the tackle phase to be responsible for the majority of injuries. Much
attention has been focused on the tackle phase due to the associ-
ated high injury rates (Quarrie & Hopkins, 2008; Targett,1998). Few
studies have distinguished between injuries from attempting
a tackle compared to being tackled. This study found being tackled
(19.0%) was associated with lower injury rates than attempting
a tackle(28.8%). The opposite was found by Hughes & Fricker (1994)
and Quarrie & Hopkins (2008). Improved tackling techniques have
been suggested as a means of reducing injury rates (Simpson et al.,
1994). Rucks and mauls caused 29.5% of injuries in this study, which
is similar to Hughes and Fricker (1994) (22.6%), Targett (1998)
(35.9%) and Bird et al. (1998) (29%).
Centres sustained the most injuries followed by the lock and full
back. The higher proportion of injuries to the lock and full back
positions are similar to other studies (Bird et al., 1998; Targett,
1998). This study found no differences between forwards and backs
consistent with Hughes and Fricker (1994), Bird et al. (1998), and
Brooks et al. (2005). However, Targett (1998) and Bathgate et al.
(2002) showed that forwards had more total injuries than backs,
despite similar numbers of tackle events by position (Quarrie &
Hopkins, 2008). The literature it is not clear which rugby position
carries the greatest risk of injury and it is likely that the playing
position has limited ability to predict injury.
Injuries occurred throughout each quarter of the game, with
44.5% occurring in the first half, which is comparable to Bird et al.
(1998) (46%). Other studies have shown the third quarter (Bathgate
et al., 2002) or the final quarter of the game to have the highest
injury rate (Hughes & Fricker, 1994; Simpson et al., 1994), sug-
gesting that fatigue may play a part in contributing to rugby
injuries. This study and Bird et al. (1998) found no evidence to
support this. However, the first quarter was found to have the
lowest injury rate in the 2002 Dunedin premier rugby competition.
By dividing the season into quarters, injury rates throughout the
season could be analysed. There was a higher rate of injuries in the
first quarter of the season. Studies by Garrawayand Macleod (1995)
and Hughes and Fricker (1994) show the pre-season period to be
when most injuries occur. Reduced match fitness at the start of or
before the season is considered a contributing factor to sustaining
an injury, however Alsop et al. (2000) found injuries increased
dramatically toward the end of the season. This late season spike
was reported to relate to an increased intensity of play associated
with competition playoffs and finals (Alsop et al., 2000). It cannot
be concluded that fitness, which can be affected by multiple factors,
has a significant influence on injury risk over the course of a season.
Targett (1998) found an even distribution of injuries throughout the
season, but found the majority of moderate to severe injuries
occurred either pre-season or in the very last part of the season.
Targett (1998) suggested reasons such as reduced fitness resulting
in cumulative microtrauma, and physical and mental fatigue by the
end of a season. Ground hardness, which has been shown to change
throughout a season, has also been shown to have no conclusive
influence in injury rates (Takemura et al., 2007)
When injury incidence was assessed over the course of the
season, a decrease in injuries was found as a function of time. That
is, injury incidence significantly decreased for each week of the
season. Previous authors (Garraway et al., 2000; Garraway &
Macleod,1995) have found increased injury risk in the early stages
of the season in both amateur and professional levels of rugby. It
has been suggested that early season injuries were related to
inadequate rest during the off-season, either through a decrease in
time off or high intensity pre-season activity (Garraway et al.,
2000). The players in the current study were competitive non-
professionals and thus may not have been subjected to such
rigorous off-season training; however a similar trend was shown.
There are several limitations of this work which merit attention.
During the course of this study two teams were excluded due to
inconsistent reporting of injuries, therefore not all injuries for the
season were reported. This causes any results and conclusions
drawn to be less representative, however injury data collection
occurred in 97% of games over the season which likely provided
accurate injury incidence rates. Our study chose to limit injury data
collection by focusing on premier competition matches only,
excluding practices and any pre-season training sessions. This
prevented comparison of match versus practice injuries. This also
meant players who sustained injuries outside of games and
subsequently missed play were not included in the data. Hughes
and Fricker (1994) and Birdet al. (1998) monitored practices as well
as games and found significant differences in injury rates, for
example one injury for every 22.3 playing hours (games) compared
to 741.8 training hours (Hughes & Fricker,1994). Additionally, it has
been reported that match injury incidence is between 36 and 50
fold higher than during training sessions (Brooks et al., 2005,,
2006). This large difference in injury frequencies means that
a player is far more likely to sustain an injury while playing a game,
supporting this study’s focus of assessing injury rates per 1000
player-match hours. Data collected was limited to injured players
only, with inclusion into the study based on injury occurrence,
therefore comparing injured and non injured players and rela-
tionships between injuries and demographic data was not possible.
Collecting injuries only during matches might also act to limit the
understanding of the true economical costs associated with injury.
The current study was designed to compare injuries in a similar
cohort of rugby competition over a decade, which included many
years of targeted rugby injury prevention programs. Rugby injuries
were shown to be substantially lower compared to 10 years
previously, with the current study showing an overall injury inci-
dence of 52 injuries/1000 player-match hours. In this cohort of
amateur players, mainly minor injuries associated with tackling
were found, with an early season bias. The current study provides
an understanding of the injuries seen in amateur rugby, versus
professional rugby, the prior constituting the majority of players
seen in physical therapy clinics. Continued surveillance of rugby
injuries at regular intervals will allow researchers to establish
injury rates and trends over time, implement injury prevention
programs, and determine the effectiveness of such interventions.
Conflict of Interest
Ethics approval was granted by the University of Otago Ethics
The authors gratefully recognise R. Marks, M. Påsche, and C.
Thompson for their assistance with data collection and preliminary
analysis. The authors also acknowledge David Jackson for assisting
with manuscript preparation.
A.G. Schneiders et al. / Physical Therapy in Sport 10 (2009) 85–9089
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