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Rugby World Cup 2003 injury surveillance project
  1. J P Best1,
  2. A S McIntosh2,
  3. T N Savage2
  1. 1The Australian Rugby Union, Sydney, Australia
  2. 2School of Safety Science, University of New South Wales, Sydney
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Andrew McIntosh
    School of Safety Science, UNSW, Sydney, Australia 2052;


Objectives: To study match injury patterns and incidence during the Rugby World Cup 2003 (RWC 2003); to compare these patterns and rates with comparative rugby injury data; and to assess differences between teams playing at different levels (eight finalists v 12 non-finalists).

Methods: Data were collected prospectively during the tournament. All injuries were recorded by the 20 participating team physicians. These were submitted to the tournament medical officer. An injury was defined as an event which forced a player either to leave the field or to miss a subsequent game or both.

Results: 189 injuries were recorded over 48 matches. This corresponds to 97.9 injuries per 1000 player-hours. Pool matches yielded a higher injury rate than non-pool matches. The 12 non-finalist teams sustained significantly higher injury rates than the eight finalist teams. The player positions open side flanker, inside centre, and number 8 were the most frequently injured positions. There was a low concussion rate, which may reflect under-reporting. The non-finalist teams had a higher rate of recurrent injury.

Conclusions: The injury rate was higher than comparative data. Mismatches in the areas of skill, fitness, and the availability of resources for medical care of players may explain these differences.

  • rugby
  • injury
  • international sport

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