Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rugby Injuries

Rugby has been in the news (even in the front page of our Straits Times) recently for many reasons the last week or so especially since the fight that broke out in the National Schools 'B' division final which sparked comments even from politicians and newspaper editors (who normally would not even watch rugby).

Well, I'm not about to join in the fray. I am actually going to write about rugby injuries that we've been treating as we've been seeing quite a few patients who play rugby as well in the last month or so (we had a player tearing the ACL representing Singapore at the Hong Kong 7's tournament).

I went to do some research to see if there are any published similarities with our local rugby injuries and here's what I found (although articles were mainly on professional rugby players).

Here's what some of the published papers found. Rugby union is a high risk sports for players' knees, highest among all other football, rugby codes (which supported previous research findings). Medical personnel at clubs reported knee injuries on a weekly basis. Knee injuries accounted for the highest number of days for injury absence (21% of all injury absence days) and were characteristically severe, with a disproportionately high number of days injured per injury.

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries accounted for the greatest proportion of days missed (255 days or 29% of all knee injury days), followed by MCL (medial collateral ligament). Injuries tended to be more common among the back row. This is fairly similar to what we saw, although we saw many shoulder injuries among the rugby players as well.

Most severe injuries occurred during contact (being tackled rather than tackling). More significant for coaches and medical personnel to take note, usually in the final 20 minutes of a match.

The physical nature of rugby makes contact injuries fairly difficult to prevent although coaches, physios can put in place a number of conditioning (or prehab) measures to help ensure players are properly prepared for the demands of the sport.


Dallalana RJ, Brooks JH et al (2008). The Epidemiology of Knee Injuries in English Profesional Rugby Union. Am J Sports Med. 35(5) : 818-830.

Quarrie KL and Hopkins WG (2008). Tackle Injuries in Professional Rugby Union. Am J Sports Med. 36(9) : 1705-1716

*Picture by Rich Seow

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