Objective To examine the match injury profile of professional rugby union players by individual playing position.
Design 4-season prospective cohort design.
Setting 14 English Premiership clubs.
Participants 899 professional players.
Main outcome measure Incidence of match injury (recorded as the number of injuries/1000 player-hours of match exposure), severity of injury (recorded as the number of days of absence) and days of absence due to injury per 1000 player-hours of match exposure.
Assessment of risk factors Injury diagnosis and individual playing position during a match.
Results 2484 injuries were reported. While there were no significant differences in the total days of absence as a result of injury between different positions in the forwards and the backs, there were a number of significant differences in injury profile for players in individual playing positions. Although three common body locations caused a high proportion of days of absence due to match injury for forwards (shoulder, knee, ankle/heel) and backs (shoulder, hamstring, knee), there were significant differences in injury profile between individual positions.
Conclusions The results clearly demonstrate the need for individual position-specific injury-prevention programmes in rugby union. When devising such programmes, a player's previous injury history should also be taken into account.
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