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A unique insight into the incidence of rugby injuries using referee replacement reports
  1. J C M Sharp1,
  2. G D Murray2,
  3. D A D Macleod1
  1. 1Honorary Medical Advisors, Scottish Rugby Union
  2. 2Department of Medical Statistics, University of Edinburgh
  1. Correspondence to: Mr D A D Macleod, St John's Hospital, Livingston, West Lothian EH54 6PP, Scotland, UK


Objectives—To obtain further information on the incidence of injuries and playing positions affected in club rugby in Scotland.

Methods—Routine reports of injury (permanent) and blood (temporary) replacements occurring in competitive club rugby matches by referees to the Scottish Rugby Union during seasons 1990–1991 to 1996–1997 were analysed.

Results—A total of 3513 injuries (87 per 100 scheduled matches) and 1000 blood replacements (34 per 100 scheduled matches) were reported. Forwards accounted for 60% of the injury and 72% of the blood replacements. Flankers and the front row were the most commonly replaced forwards while wing and centre three quarters were the most vulnerable playing positions among backs. The incidence of injury replacements increased as the match progressed up until the last 10 minutes when the trend was reversed. Blood replacements showed a different pattern with 60% occurring during the first half of the match.

Conclusion—The most important finding of the study was reliability of referees in documenting the vulnerability of certain playing positions, and the timing when injuries took place, thus assisting coaches and team selectors when choosing replacement players for competitive club and representative rugby matches. This study re-emphasises the need for continuing epidemiological research.

  • rugby injuries
  • referee replacement reports
  • Scottish Rugby Union
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  • A unique insight into the incidence of rugby injuries using referee replacement reports
    J C M Sharp, G D Murray, and D A D Macleod. Br J Sports Med 2001;35:34-37

    Missing figure
    Figure 2 was inadvertently omitted from the printed version of this article. The figure is shown below (the error is regretted).

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    Figure 2    Injury (1990-96) and blood (1993-97) replacements by stage of match.


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