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The relationships between rugby union, and health and well-being: a scoping review

Abstract

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Data sources Published and unpublished reports of any age, identified by searching electronic databases, platforms and reference lists.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.

  • rugby
  • physical activity
  • health promotion
  • well-being
  • injuries

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