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2010/2011 - RFU Community Rugby Injury Surveillance Project

There is growing understanding of the nature of match injuries which occur in rugby union. However, the research conducted to date in the English game has focussed on injuries which have occurred at International and Premiership levels. While detailed information is available for Premiership rugby, it may not be appropriate to assume that these injury patterns reflect those in the Community game. Some of the different player and match characteristics which exist between Premiership and Community levels may influence injury type and frequency. However, it should also be considered that even within levels 3-9 there will be a range of playing abilities and possibly scope for differing injury patterns.

In order to provide information specific to the Community game, a programme of injury surveillance has been established which caters for this range of playing levels. The Community Rugby Injury Surveillance Project is run by a team at the University of Bath and funded by the RFU Injured Players Foundation on behalf of Community Rugby as part of a commitment by the RFU to reduce injuries within rugby. The Project involves the collection and analysis of information on injuries which occur during 1st XV matches in RFU playing levels 3-9.

The purpose of this research project is to firstly identify injury patterns within community rugby to understand more about such factors as the number of injuries occurring, the type of injuries, and how they happen. This information can help to inform possible intervention strategies for particularly common or severe injuries and to provide guidance on strategies for medical provision within clubs.

Key findings

  • Within community rugby the injury rate significantly decreases as the club's league level lowers. The injury rate was measured for three groups of clubs: Group A (league levels 3 & 4) had an injury rate of 19.4 per 1,000 playing hours; Group B (levels 5&6) 16.5 per 1,000 hours and Group C (levels 7, 8 & 9) 14.4 per 1,000 hours.
  • Collectively, most injuries occur in the lower limb (thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle), hence advice on injury prevention and management is included in the report which is being distributed to clubs, schools and coach educators.
  • The majority of injuries occur in contact and approximately half of all injuries occur in the tackle. The next most common cause is running, then the ruck. Few injuries occur in the scrum. This pattern is now able to be reflected in the coaching resources aimed at developing correct technique around the contact zone
  • Only 3% of injuries were the result of what the referee deemed to be foul play, but the RFU continues to work closely with the referees at the grassroots level to help inform how the laws of the game are applied to prevent injuries
  • An ambulance was needed for only 7% of injuries, equating to 1 in 45 matches (or around once every two seasons for a typical team)
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