Fresh from the press, out of our collaboration with the University of Capetown. Youth rugby union is a popular sport with a high injury incidence density (IID) and burden. This high risk has called for further research into the factors affecting the injuries in youth rugby. The aim of the study was to analyse time-loss IID and burden in multiple schoolboy rugby teams over a season and the potential factors associated with injury.
Over a whole rugby season, all time-loss injuries were recorded from three schools. Overall IID and injury burden were calculated, as well as for injury event, type, location and the match quarter in which they occurred and Poisson regression analyses were performed to determine differences.
IID was 28.8 (18.9–38.6) injuries per 1000 player hours over the season, with an injury burden of 379.2 (343.6–414.9) days lost per 1000 player hours. The ball-carrier had a significantly higher IID (11.3 (5.2–17.5) per 1000 player hours) compared to other events, and the joint (non-bone)/ligament injuries were the most common (IID of 12.2 (5.8–18.6) per 1000 player hours) and severe type of injury (burden of 172.6 (148.5–196.6) days lost per 1000 player hours).
This under-16 South African youth rugby cohort had an average match injury incidence of 28 injuries per 1000 player hours for one season. Although this IID is comparable to that of other youth cohorts, the injury burden was much lower at 379 days per 1000 player hours. This discrepancy was a result of the average injury being less severe in the present study. While earlier studies had their limitations, the current study largely replicated their main findings. The tackle was shown to be the main injury causing event, with this study showing the ball carrier to be more frequently injured than the tackler. The risk factors associated with injury were comparable to those in European youth rugby, with joint (non- bone)/ligament injuries having the highest injury incidence. The incidence of CNS/PNS, of which concussion was the majority contributor, should continue to be monitored closely. A larger cohort is needed to further investigate the match period in which the injuries are occurring as this South African cohort showed interesting information on the timing of injuries in South African youth rugby. South African youth rugby has been under-researched in a seasonal context, and the results from this study provide further insight into the characteristics of the injuries occurring at this level.
Take home messages
- The under-16 age group should focus on joint (non- bone)/ligament injury prevention programmes, for both lower and upper limbs.
The tackle should be a point of training focus for teams with safe and effective technique being taught and practiced regularly.
Concussion injuries are prominent in this group and therefore the introduction of concussion injury prevention measures are required.
Sewry N, Verhagen E, Lambert M, et al. Seasonal time-loss match injury rates and burden in South African under-16 rugby teams. J Sci Med Sport 2018;:1–5. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2018.06.007