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Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093745
  • Original article

More than 50% of players sustained a time-loss injury (>1 day of lost training or playing time) during the 2012 Super Rugby Union Tournament: a prospective cohort study of 17 340 player-hours

  1. Arthur Williams11
  1. 1Clinical Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Group, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Newlands, South Africa
  2. 2International Olympic Committee Research Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3Biostatistics Unit, Medical Research Council, Parow, South Africa
  4. 4Statistics and Population Studies Department, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
  5. 5South African Rugby Union, Cape Town, South Africa
  6. 6Golden Lions Rugby Union, Johannesburg, South Africa
  7. 7Section Sports Medicine, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  8. 8Cheetahs Rugby Union, Bloemfontein, South Africa
  9. 9Blue Bulls Rugby Union, Pretoria, South Africa
  10. 10Sharks Rugby Union, Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  11. 11Stormers Rugby Union, Cape Town, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to
    Professor Martin P Schwellnus, Clinical Sport and Exercise Medicine Research Group, UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, 3rd Floor, Sports Science Institute of South Africa, Boundary Road, Newlands, Cape Town 7700, South Africa; mschwell{at}iafrica.com
  • Accepted 13 June 2014
  • Published Online First 30 June 2014

Abstract

Background Professional Rugby Union is a contact sport with a high risk of injury.

Objective To document the incidence and nature of time-loss injuries during the 2012 Super Rugby tournament.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting 2012 Super Rugby tournament (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa).

Participants 152 players from 5 South African teams.

Methods Team physicians collected daily injury data through a secure, web-based electronic platform. Data included size of the squad, type of day, main player position, training or match injury, hours of play (training and matches), time of the match injury, mechanism of injury, main anatomical location of the injury, specific anatomical structure of the injury, the type of injury, the severity of the injury (days lost).

Results The proportion (%) of players sustaining a time-loss injury during the tournament was 55%, and 25% of all players sustained >1 injury. The overall incidence rate (IR/1000 player-hours) of injuries was 9.2. The IR for matches (83.3) was significantly higher than for training (2.1) and the IR was similar for forwards and backs. Muscle/tendon (50%) and joint/ligament (32.7%) injuries accounted for >80% of injuries. Most injuries occurred in the lower (48.1%) and upper limb (25.6%). 42% of all injuries were moderate (27.5%) or severe (14.8%), and tackling (26.3%) and being tackled (23.1%) were the most common mechanisms of injury. The IR of injuries was unrelated to playing at home compared with away (locations ≥6 h time difference).

Conclusions 55% of all players were injured during the 4-month Super Rugby tournament (1.67 injuries/match). Most injuries occurred in the lower (knee, thigh) or upper limb (shoulder, clavicle). 42% of injuries were severe enough for players to not play for >1 week.

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