Cervical injury in rugby football--a New Zealand survey.
In a study of cervical injury in New Zealand rugby football in the years 1973 to 1978 inclusive, 54 cases of injury were identified of which five were fatal. There is no evidence that the incidence of these injuries is increasing. Incomplete figures for the season of 1979/80 include two deaths and 14 cases of permanent cord compression or temporary quadriplegia. The scrum is confirmed as a danger area but the danger occurring during the formation of the scrum is seen to be greater than was previously thought. Young players appear to be particularly vulnerable in scrums. The ruck and maul are danger areas. One-third of the accidents occurred during training or social games. It is concluded that the incidence of injury could be reduced by appropriate player selection, better coaching and amendment of the laws. Since only one player was aware of his danger at the time of his accident, it would seem that coaching with an emphasis on awareness and precautionary measures would be effective in prevention of cervical injury.