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Rugby World Cup 2015: World Rugby injury surveillance study
  1. Colin W Fuller1,2,
  2. Aileen Taylor1,
  3. Simon P T Kemp3,
  4. Martin Raftery1
  1. 1World Rugby, World Rugby House, Dublin 2, Ireland
  2. 2Colin Fuller Consultancy Ltd, Sutton Bonington, UK
  3. 3Rugby Football Union, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Colin W Fuller, Colin Fuller Consultancy Ltd, 85 Main Street, Sutton Bonington LE12 5PE, UK; ColinFullerConsultancy{at}


Objective To determine the incidence, severity and nature of injuries sustained during the Rugby World Cup (RWC) 2015 together with the inciting events leading to the injuries.

Design A prospective, whole population study.

Population 639 international rugby players representing 20 countries.

Method The study protocol followed the definitions and procedures recommended in the consensus statement for epidemiological studies in rugby union; output measures included players' age (years), stature (cm), body mass (kg) and playing position, and the group-level incidence (injuries/1000 player-hours), mean and median severity (days-absence), location (%), type (%) and inciting event (%) for match and training injuries.

Results Incidence of injury was 90.1 match injuries/1000 player-match-hours (backs: 100.4; forwards: 81.1) and 1.0 training injuries/1000 player-training-hours (backs: 0.9; forwards: 1.2). The mean severity of injuries was 29.8 days-absence (backs: 30.4; forwards: 29.1) during matches and 14.4 days-absence (backs: 6.3; forwards: 19.8) during training. During matches, head/face (22.0%), knee (16.2%), muscle-strain (23.1%) and ligament-sprain (23.1%) and, during training, lower limb (80.0%) and muscle-strain (60.0%) injuries were the most common locations and types of injury. Being-tackled (24.7%) was the most common inciting event for injury during matches and rugby-skills-contact activities (70.0%) the most common during training.

Conclusions While the incidence, nature and inciting events associated with match injuries at RWC 2015 were similar to those reported previously for RWCs 2007 and 2011, there were increasing trends in the mean severity and total days-absence through injury.

  • Cohort study
  • Contact sports
  • Epidemiology
  • Rugby
  • Surveillance

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  • Contributors CWF designed and implemented the study, analysed the data, wrote the first draft, prepared the revision and approved the final submission. AT implemented the study, reviewed and edited the first draft and approved the final submission. SPTK implemented the study, reviewed and edited the first draft and approved the final submission. MR implemented the study, reviewed and edited the first draft and approved the final submission.

  • Funding The study was funded by World Rugby.

  • Competing interests CWF is an independent research consultant providing support to World Rugby. SPTK is the Chief Medical Officer for the Rugby Football Union. MR is the Chief Medical Officer for World Rugby.

  • Ethics approval World Rugby Institutional Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.