The epidemiology of injuries in professional rugby union
A prospective cohort study of 412 professional rugby union players registered with the English Premiership clubs was conducted during the 2002-2003 season. Injuries were diagnosed and reported by the club medics and the training practices by the club strength and conditioners. A total of 1,090 club injuries (match: 818; training: 260; unidentifiable onset: 12) and 145 international injuries (match: 97; training: 48) were reported. The incidence and risk of club match injuries was 97 injuries and 1,480 days absence per 1,000 player-hours, and the incidence and risk of international match injuries was 218 injuries and 3,076 days absence per 1,000 player-hours. The highest incidence of match injuries occurred to the thigh, however, injuries to the knee were of highest risk. The incidence of club and international training injuries was 3.1 and 6.1 injuries per 1,000 player-hours, respectively. When intrinsic risk factors were assessed, the youngest players (<21 years old) had the highest incidence and a significantly higher risk of injury. Playing position appeared to be the most influential determinate of injury profile, rather than intrinsic anthropometric risk factors alone. The match injury with the second highest incidence and risk was hamstring muscle injuries and a number of risk factors and protective training factors were identified. Results presented from this study have provided the most comprehensive study of injury incidence, aetiology and risk factors in professional rugby union to date. The data provide objective evidence on which to base both preventative interventions to reduce the probability of sustaining an injury and therapeutic interventions to reduce the severity of an injury and thereby reduce the overall risk associated with injuries.