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250 New Zealand super rugby injury surveillance: match injuries from 2015–2018
  1. Danielle Salmon1,
  2. Ian Murphy1,
  3. Kenneth Quarrie1,
  4. Greg MacLeod6,
  5. Asheer Singh6,
  6. Adam Letts6,
  7. John Roche2,
  8. Deborah Robinson2,
  9. Martin Swan2,
  10. Theo Dorfling3,
  11. Cameron Shaw3,
  12. Katherine Rottier4,
  13. Kevin Bell4,
  14. Stephen Kara5,
  15. James McGarvey5
  1. 1New Zealand Rugby, Wellington, New Zealand
  2. 2Crusaders Super Rugby Franchise, Christchurch, New Zealand
  3. 3Hurricanes Super Rugby Franchise, Wellington, New Zealand
  4. 4Chiefs Super Rugby Franchise, Hamilton, New Zealand
  5. 5Blues Super Rugby Franchise, Auckland, New Zealand
  6. 6Highlanders Super Rugby Franchise, Dunedin, New Zealand


Background Rugby union is a collision-based sport, as such the occurrence of injuries resulting in time-loss from participation is inevitable. In 2015 New Zealand Rugby (NZR) began an injury surveillance program with all NZ-based Super Rugby teams to capture all time-loss injuries.

Objective To examine the incidence, burden, severity, nature and cause of match injuries in NZR Super Teams.

Design A prospective observational study.

Setting Match injuries sustained during the 2015–2018 Super rugby seasons.

Patients (or Participants) All contracted rugby players (n=190) over the four seasons.

Main Outcome Measurements Primary outcomes of interest were incidence (injuries/1000 player match-hours), injury burden (days absence/1000 player-match-hours), median severity (days absence), location (%), diagnosis (%) and mechanism (%).

Results From 2015–2018 the following incidence was documented 122, 85, 94 and 81 injuries/1000 player-match-hours respectively. During the first year the initial injury incidence was 122 injuries/1000 player-match-hours, which was significantly higher than 2018, 81 injuries/1000 player-match-hours. The days absence increased over the period from a median of 7 days missed in 2015 (burden: 2262 days absence/1000 player-match-hours) to 16 in 2018 (burden: 3206 days absence/1000 player-match-hours). There was a significant difference in the incidence of injury by position, where forwards sustained 106 injuries/1000 player-match-hours and backs 85. The most at risk position was the hooker (118 injuries/1000 player-match-hours) and the lowest inside backs (59 injuries/1000 player-match-hours). Tackling was the most common mechanism of injury 27%, followed by being tackled 25% and collisions 12%. The head was the most common injury location (19%), followed by the shoulder (13%) and knee (10%). The three most commonly diagnosed injuries were sprains (28%), concussions (20%) and muscle rupture/strains/tear/cramp (16%).

Conclusions The current data supports the international trend in professional rugby where the time-loss associated with each injury is increasing, resulting in higher levels of injury burden.

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