Rugby Union is a physically demanding, full-contact team sport that has grown in popularity. To reduce injury risk a comprehensive understanding of the incidence and nature of injuries is required. Injury surveillance systems are currently lacking in the amateur rugby game worldwide. The use of consistent injury definitions and methods of data collection are needed to provide robust epidemiological information for this cohort.
PURPOSE: To assess the match injury incidence, nature, location and burden amongst male amateur adult players in Ireland.
METHODS: A bespoke web-based injury surveillance system was used with 15 male adult Irish amateur national league clubs (479 players) across a full rugby season. Each club nominated an ‘injury recorder’, either a medical physician or physiotherapist, who was trained in use of the system. The injury definition used in this injury surveillance system aligned to the World Rugby consensus guidelines on injury definitions. Measures included match injury incidence, nature, location and injury burden, which assesses the frequency of an injury in relation to the severity of the injury (measured as the number of days absent).
RESULTS: The match injury incidence for male adult amateur players was 49.7/1,000 player hours. The most common lower limb location of injury was the ankle (6.3/1,000 player hours), while the shoulder had the highest upper limb injury incidence rate (9.1/1,000 player hours). Regarding the nature of match injury, strains (15.4/1,000 player hours) had the highest incidence rate followed by sprains (12.9/1,000 player hours) and haematomas/contusions (6.2/1,000 player hours). The top three injuries with the highest injury burden were hamstring strains (756 cumulative days absent), concussion (611 days absent) and anterior talo-fibular ligament sprains (605 days absent).
CONCLUSIONS: The results from this comprehensive and robust web-based surveillance system provide detail on the incidence, nature, location and burden of match injury for male adult amateur players. This information can inform practice so that appropriate injury prevention strategies and policies can be derived to reduce injury risk in male amateur rugby and thus enhance player welfare.