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Physiotherapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

If an injury does occur it is important to have an appropriate level of first aid or immediate care available to ensure that the necessary initial care and treatment is provided. A therapist or doctor should be consulted to ensure an early diagnosis and correct treatment is received to help the player recover and return to play the game.

England and Lions star Andrew Sheridan works out in the gym

Photo: Getty Images


Rehabilitation requires supervision and management by appropriately trained medical staff, doctors, physiotherapists and fitness advisors. The aim of rehabilitation is to restore the player to full fitness, which includes:

  • recovery of muscle strength
  • restoration of a full range of movement in the joint
  • recovery of co-ordination and balance
  • fitness maintained by exercises such as cycling and swimming
  • when ready - gradual introduction of rugby specific skills
  • contact drills followed by full contact

If when these stages of recovery and rehabilitation are achieved, the player is ready to return to action.

Return to play

Players should only return to play once the coach, doctor or physiotherapist has tested the individual to see if they are ready to get back onto the field. These returning players must once again demonstrate that they are rugby ready. The tests should include the fitness tests as used at the beginning of the season, and rugby skills and movements that the players will perform in a game, such as tackling, sidestepping, jumping, etc. Player profiling information should be used to compare performances and see if players are once again rugby ready. If players can demonstrate the same performance level as pre-injury, then they are once again rugby ready.

Further information is available on the IRB’s Rugby Ready website.