OBJECTIVE: To determine the frequency, nature, circumstances, and outcome of schoolboy rugby injuries and to compare these injuries with those occurring in senior rugby clubs. METHODS: The study was a prospective cohort study, conducted on 1705 (98%) of 1736 eligible players from nine Edinburgh schools and 1169 (96%) of 1216 eligible players from all 26 senior Scottish Rugby Union clubs (South District) who provided personal details before the 1993-1994 rugby season. Adult linkpersons were appointed to notify the circumstances of all injury episodes occurring in matches or in rugby related training. RESULTS: 154 school players (9%) experienced 210 separate injuries in 186 injury episodes, 80% of which arose in matches. The prevalence rate of schoolboy match injuries was 86.8 (95% confidence interval 73.4 to 100.2) per 1000 player-seasons. Senior club match injury prevalence was much higher at 367.0 (339.4 to 394.6) per 1000 player-seasons. Club players had a higher rate of match injury than school-boys for all injury types. One third of schoolboy match injury episodes occurred in September and the majority of match injury episodes were associated with tackling (40%) or with being tackled (24%). Nine per cent of schoolboy match injury episodes were classified as severe, compared to 13% for clubs. Sixteen per cent (n = 23) of all schoolboy match injury episodes resulted in missed school attendance compared with 27% (n = 117) of all senior club match injury episodes which involved loss of employment or education. CONCLUSIONS: Schoolboy rugby is much safer than senior club rugby and the outcome of injuries that do occur is less disruptive. The relatively high rate of match injury in September migh be reduced by a more intensive period of preseason training.
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