PURPOSE: Rugby-7s, on the Olympic program, over the next decade, has a dearth of injury data, limiting injury prevention. Most injury reporting focuses on time-loss injuries with little or no data on medical attention injuries. The aim was to determine the match non-time-loss injury incidence in U.S. men’s Rugby-7s.
METHODS: A prospective epidemiology study of 17,770 U.S. men Rugby-7s players (1,474 teams), in multi-level USA Rugby and USA Sevens LLC tournaments (2010-2014). Incidence (per 1000 player-hour (ph)) and biomechanism of non-time-loss injuries were captured via the Rugby Injury Survey & Evaluation (RISE) Report methodology.
RESULTS: Non- time-loss injuries were found at 66.1/1000 ph (n=686). Positionally, backs encountered more injuries (63%; 67.4/1000ph; n=400) than forwards (36%; 52.4/1000ph; n=233; RR=1.3; P=0.002). Most injuries were acute (93%), occurring in the tackle (67%). Shoulder tackles resulted in most non-time-loss injuries (63%) (backs 65%; forwards 58%; RR=1.7; P<0.001). Recurrent injuries (23%) occurred frequently. Main injuries were lower extremity ligament sprains (14.2%). Overall head/neck injury rates were 23%, and found higher with incorporation of tackles (26%). The sub-acute head trauma/contusion rate, where players were physician-cleared to return to sport (non-time loss) was 4.9% (3.2/1000ph).
CONCLUSIONS: Recording non-time-loss (medical attention) injuries will provide a true burden of injury and illness among the growing U.S. Rugby- 7s population. Most injuries occur to the lower extremity (41%), reflective of the greater amount running, acceleration and deceleration in the Rugby-7s format. Head/neck non-time-loss injury rates were found lower than the “all medical attention injuries (30%)” in community international male Rugby-15s. Most injuries were related to tackling amongst the upper extremity (35%), and head/neck (26%), making these areas a focus to reduce risk in the U.S. and support tackle-technique evaluations especially with head positional focusing and its target area (lateral hip). Proper medical assessments, need to scrutinize return to play post-tournaments to reduce recurrent injury risk in the U.S. men’s cohort. Investigations such as this will aid in understanding the current needs and allocation of medical resources for Rugby-7s.