OBJECTIVE: To investigate the incidence of injury in English professional rugby league over a period of four playing seasons. METHODS: All injuries that were received by players during match play were recorded. Each injury was classified according to site, type, player position, team playing for, activity at the time of injury, and time off as a result of injury. RESULTS: The overall injury rate was 114 (95% confidence interval 105 to 124) per 1000 playing hours, the most frequent type of injury were muscular injuries [34 (29 to 40) per 1000 playing hours], while the most frequently injured site was the head and neck region [38 (16 to 25) per 1000 playing hours]. Players received the largest percentage of injuries when being tackled [46.3% (41.9 to 50.7)], most injuries required less than one week away from playing and training [70.1% (66.1 to 74.2)], and forwards had a higher injury rate than backs (139 v 93 injuries per 1000 hours). CONCLUSIONS: The high rates of injury in rugby league are undoubtedly due to the high amount of bodily contact in the game. Being tackled has the highest risk of injury, because of being hit forcibly by other players. Forwards suffer higher injury rates than backs, probably because they are involved in a larger number of physical collisions.
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