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More than 50% of players sustained a time-loss injury (>1 day of lost training or playing time) during the 2012 Super Rugby Union Tournament: a prospective cohort study of 17 340 player-hours


Background Professional Rugby Union is a contact sport with a high risk of injury.

Objective To document the incidence and nature of time-loss injuries during the 2012 Super Rugby tournament.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting 2012 Super Rugby tournament (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa).

Participants 152 players from 5 South African teams.

Methods Team physicians collected daily injury data through a secure, web-based electronic platform. Data included size of the squad, type of day, main player position, training or match injury, hours of play (training and matches), time of the match injury, mechanism of injury, main anatomical location of the injury, specific anatomical structure of the injury, the type of injury, the severity of the injury (days lost).

Results The proportion (%) of players sustaining a time-loss injury during the tournament was 55%, and 25% of all players sustained >1 injury. The overall incidence rate (IR/1000 player-hours) of injuries was 9.2. The IR for matches (83.3) was significantly higher than for training (2.1) and the IR was similar for forwards and backs. Muscle/tendon (50%) and joint/ligament (32.7%) injuries accounted for >80% of injuries. Most injuries occurred in the lower (48.1%) and upper limb (25.6%). 42% of all injuries were moderate (27.5%) or severe (14.8%), and tackling (26.3%) and being tackled (23.1%) were the most common mechanisms of injury. The IR of injuries was unrelated to playing at home compared with away (locations ≥6 h time difference).

Conclusions 55% of all players were injured during the 4-month Super Rugby tournament (1.67 injuries/match). Most injuries occurred in the lower (knee, thigh) or upper limb (shoulder, clavicle). 42% of injuries were severe enough for players to not play for >1 week.

  • Rugby
  • Injury Prevention
  • Epidemiology
  • Contact sports
  • Sporting injuries

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