Objectives: To undertake a detailed epidemiological study of training injuries sustained by professional rugby union players in order to define their incidence, nature, severity, and causes.
Methods: A two season prospective design was used to study training injuries associated with 502 rugby union players at 11 English Premiership clubs. Team clinicians reported all training injuries on a weekly basis and provided details of the location, diagnosis, severity, and mechanism of each injury. Training exposures for individual players were recorded on a weekly basis. Loss of time from training and match play was used as the definition of an injury.
Results: The overall incidence of injury was 2.0 per 1000 player-hours, and each injury resulted on average in 24 days lost time. Recurrences, which accounted for 19% of injuries, were more severe (35 days) than new injuries (21 days). Twenty two per cent of all training occurred during the preseason but 34% of all injuries were sustained in this period. Hamstring, calf, hip flexor/quadriceps, and adductor muscle injuries were the most common for backs, whereas hamstring, lateral ankle ligament, and lumbar disc/nerve root injuries predominated for forwards. Lumbar disc/nerve root, shoulder dislocation/instability, and hamstring muscle injuries for forwards and hamstring muscle and anterior cruciate ligament injuries for backs caused the greatest number of days absence. Running was the predominant cause of injury for both forwards and backs, although the overall incidence and severity of injuries sustained during skills training were significantly greater than those sustained during conditioning training.
Conclusions: On average, a club will have 5% of their players unavailable for selection as a consequence of training injuries.
- risk factors
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Competing interests: none declared