Objective To scope the relationships between rugby union, and health and well-being.
Design Scoping review.
Data sources Published and unpublished reports of any age, identified by searching electronic databases, platforms and reference lists.
Methods A three-step search strategy identified relevant published primary, secondary studies and grey literature, which were screened using a priori inclusion criteria. Data were extracted using a standardised tool, to form (1) a numerical analysis and (2) a thematic summary.
Results and discussion 6658 records were identified, and 198 studies met the inclusion criteria. All forms of rugby union can provide health-enhancing physical activity (PA). ‘Non-contact’ and wheelchair rugby in particular provide a wide range of physical and mental health and well-being benefits. The evidence is either mixed or unclear in relation to ‘contact’ rugby union and its effects on a range of physical health domains. Injury and concussion incidence rates are high for contact rugby union relative to other sports.
Conclusions A wide range of stakeholders as well as existing and potential participants can use this information to make a more informed decision about participating in and promoting rugby union as a health-enhancing activity. Industry and policy-makers can use this review to inform policies and strategies that look to increase participation rates and use rugby union as a vehicle to contribute positively to population health. Further research understanding rugby union’s contribution to PA as well as to muscle-strengthening and balance is indicated, as well as research examining more health and well-being outcomes across more diverse cohorts.
- physical activity
- health promotion
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Correction notice This article has been corrected since it published Online First. The second author's name has been corrected.
Contributors SAG proposed the review. SAG, AM, KAS and SK identified the method and identified the framework for the review. SAG, AM, NPP and CH proposed the search strategy. All authors contributed to the development of the research questions and the study design. All authors developed the first and subsequent drafts of the manuscript, then subsequently reviewed and approved the final manuscript.
Funding This project formed part of SAG’s work with the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at Imperial College London, a remunerated post, as well as SAG’s work as a Sports Medicine Training Fellow at the Rugby Football Union. NPP is funded from the Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Research Versus Arthritis (sports grant number: HFR02510).
Competing interests SAG receives remuneration for clinical work in professional rugby union, and is employed by the Rugby Football Union as a Sports Medicine Training Fellow. AM receives remuneration from Scottish Rugby Union for clinical work. SK is employed by the Rugby Football Union as medical services director. KAS is employed by the Rugby Football Union as medical research lead.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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