Objectives: To assess the aetiology, incidence, severity, and causes of injuries to England rugby union players during preparation for and participation in the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
Method: A 63 week prospective design was employed to study the training practices and injuries of England rugby players. The team physician reported all training and match injuries and provided details of the location, diagnosis, severity, and mechanism of each injury. The team fitness coach reported details of the number and duration of training sessions and the time dedicated to rugby and conditioning training. Players’ stature, body mass, and skinfolds were measured at the beginning and end of the study period.
Results: The overall incidence of injury was 17 injuries/1000 h of exposure (match: 218 injuries/1000 h; training: 6.1 injuries/1000 h). The major locations of injuries were the lower (60%) and upper (17%) limbs and the most common diagnoses were muscle and tendon (50%) and joint (non-bone) and ligament (41%) injuries. The highest incidences of match injuries occurred whilst being tackled (50 injuries/1000 h) and in a ruck or maul (35 injuries/1000 h), whilst the greatest incidences of training injuries occurred during endurance running (24 injuries/1000 h) and contact activities (20 injuries/1000 h). Players’ average body mass increased and skinfold measurement decreased significantly over the study period.
Conclusions: The incidence of match injuries at international level was found to be higher than previously reported. The tackle, ruck, and maul elements of match play and the endurance running and contact elements of training presented the highest risk of injury for all players.
- elite rugby
- risk factors
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The authors would like to acknowledge the Rugby Football Union for their financial support of this research programme.
Competing interests: none declared.
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