Rugby Injuries

Article by John Miller

rugby injuries

Common Rugby Injuries

Rugby is a fast-moving and high intensity team sport. Although historically dominated by males, the sport is gaining popularity among females.

As many as 1 in 4 rugby players will be injured during the season. On average each player performs 20- 40 tackles per match. Almost 25% of neck injuries occur when there is a mismatch in experience between the two opposing front rows.

A lower ranked or less skilled team within the division, a forward position, being tackled, and beginning of the season are identified as risk factors for rugby injuries.

  • Rugby injury rates are reported to be nearly three times higher than soccer.
  • Most injuries are experienced by 10-18 year olds.
  • Adults aged 25–34 years have also been found to be at high risk.

When Do Rugby Injuries Occur?

  • More injuries occur during matches (57%) than in training, and more often in the second half of the game.
  • Approximately half of all injuries occur while a player is tackling or being tackled.

Which Rugby Players Suffer the Most Injuries?

  • Hookers and flankers sustain the most injuries.
  • Forwards are more frequently injured than backs because of their greater involvement in physical collisions and tackles.
  • In the backs, wings, fullbacks and centres are at the highest risk of injury.
  • In the scrum, the locks are at greatest risk of facial cuts and cauliflower ear (external deformity to the ear caused by repeated blows.
  • Players in rucks and mauls commonly suffer injuries to fingers and thumbs as well as abrasions and lacerations from cleats.

What Kinds of Injuries Occur in Rugby?

  • Over 40% of injuries are muscular strains or contusions (bruising), 30% are sprains, followed by dislocations, fractures, lacerations, and overuse injuries.
  • Sprained ankles are a common injury with ankle sprains representing almost 1 in 7 rugby injuries.
  • Between 5-25% of rugby injuries are head injuries, including concussions.
  • In youth aged 10-18 years, 35% of injuries are fractures, of which 24% involve the clavicle. 
  • Superficial injuries represent 20% of rugby injuries, followed by head injuries and sprains (16%). 
  • Of the head injuries, 44% are concussions.

Pre-Season Preparation is Important

More injuries occur at the beginning of a season, suggesting that pre-season conditioning could reduce injuries.

A pre-season conditioning program should gradually increase in intensity and duration to prepare athletes for competition.

Injury prevention strategies to reduce the incidence, severity and cost of rugby injuries could include coaching on defensive skills, correct tackling technique, correct falling technique and methods to minimise the absorption of impact forces in tackles.

To reduce scrummaging injuries at lower rugby levels, props should crouch, touch, pause and then engage. This technique is called Depowering the Scrum. Another alternative is Sequential Engagement where the front rows engage first and then the second row joins in, so that a stable scrum is established.

Source: The British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit

rugby injury

Common Rugby Injuries

  • AC Joint Injury
  • Achilles Tendon Rupture
  • Achilles Tendonitis / Tendinitis
  • ACL Injury
  • Adductor Tendinopathy
  • Anterior Ankle Impingement
  • Back Muscle Pain
  • BPPV - Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo
  • Bulging Disc
  • Bursitis Knee
  • Bursitis Shoulder
  • Calf Muscle Tear
  • Chondromalacia Patella
  • Corked Thigh
  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Dislocated Shoulder
  • Facet Joint Pain
  • Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)
  • Gluteal Tendinopathy
  • Groin Strain
  • Hamstring Strain
  • Heel Spur
  • High Ankle Sprain
  • Hip Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)
  • Hip Labral Tear
  • ITB Syndrome
  • Knee Arthritis
  • Knee Ligament Injuries
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Muscle Strain (Muscle Pain)
  • Neck Arm Pain
  • Neck Headache
  • Osgood Schlatter's
  • Osteitis Pubis
  • Overuse Injuries
  • Patella Tendonitis (Tendinopathy)
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
  • Pinched Nerve
  • Piriformis Syndrome
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Plica Syndrome
  • Poor Hip Core
  • Rotator Cuff Syndrome
  • Rotator Cuff Tear
  • Sacroiliac Joint Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Severs Disease
  • Shin Splints
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Shoulder Tendonitis
  • Sinding Larsen Johansson Syndrome
  • Sprained Ankle
  • Stress Fracture
  • Thigh Strain
  • Thumb Sprain
  • TMJ Dysfunction
  • Trochanteric Bursitis
  • Wry Neck
  • Contact PhysioWorks Book Online

    Common Rugby Treatments

  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Avoid the HARM Factors
  • Soft Tissue Injury? What are the Healing Phases?
  • What to do after a Muscle Strain or Ligament Sprain?
  • Acupuncture and Dry Needling
  • Sub-Acute Soft Tissue Injury Treatment
  • Core Exercises
  • Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
  • Rotator Cuff Exercises
  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises
  • Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
  • Gait Analysis
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Real Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Walking Boot
  • Ankle Strapping
  • Brace or Support
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Knee Arthroscopy
  • Neurodynamics
  • Prehabilitation
  • Running Analysis
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Yoga
  • rugby injuries

    FAQ's about Rugby Injuries

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • How Does Kinesiology Tape Reduce Swelling?
  • The Best Core Exercises
  • Heat Packs. Why do they feel so good?
  • How Does an Exercise Ball Help Back Pain?
  • How to Strap an Ankle
  • Rotator Cuff: What is it?
  • Sports Injury? What to do? When?
  • What are Common Adolescent / Children Leg Injuries?
  • What are Growing Pains?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • What's Your Core Stability Score?
  • Helpful Products for Rugby Players

    Rugby Union Injuries

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    Last updated 20-Jun-2014 08:04 AM

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