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RFU Community Rugby Injury Surveillance Project

17 January 2012

  • Volunteers provide crucial information for Community Rugby Injury Surveillance Project
  • Sponsored by Marsh, the project is now in its third year
RFU Community Rugby Injury Surveillance Project

Photo: RFU Archive

The lower level you play rugby at the less chance there is of getting injured. That’s one of the key findings from the only long-term community sport injury surveillance programme in the UK and in rugby globally.

As the National Governing Body of rugby in England, the RFU recognises the crucial need for research into injury and the impact it has on the game and its players. That’s why, thanks to sponsors Marsh, official insurance broker to the RFU, the Community Rugby Injury Surveillance Project is now in its third year, sampling data from 109 clubs in the 2010/11 season; after starting with just 12 clubs in 2008/9.

Information is reported on medical attendances made during the match and injuries which are severe enough to keep a player out for at least one match.

The findings come as a result of the work of volunteers at each of the 109 clubs throughout England who stand pitch side come rain or shine to record the rate and type of injury on the field. The dedication of these volunteers provides vital information that ensures the RFU can continue to investigate effective ways of reducing injury rates, through working with referees and coaches to improve the quality of playing experience.

Key findings

  • Within community rugby the injury rate significantly decreases as the club's league level lowers. The injury rate was measured for three groups of clubs: Group A (league levels 3 & 4) had an injury rate of 19.4 per 1,000 playing hours; Group B (levels 5&6) 16.5 per 1,000 hours and Group C (levels 7, 8 & 9) 14.4 per 1,000 hours.
  • Collectively, most injuries occur in the lower limb (thigh, knee, lower leg, ankle), hence advice on injury prevention and management is included in the report which is being distributed to clubs, schools and coach educators.
  • The majority of injuries occur in contact and approximately half of all injuries occur in the tackle. The next most common cause is running, then the ruck. Few injuries occur in the scrum. This pattern is now able to be reflected in the coaching resources aimed at developing correct technique around the contact zone
  • Only 3% of injuries were the result of what the referee deemed to be foul play, but the RFU continues to work closely with the referees at the grassroots level to help inform how the laws of the game are applied to prevent injuries
  • An ambulance was needed for only 7% of injuries, equating to 1 in 45 matches (or around once every two seasons for a typical team)

The RFU’s Community Rugby Medical Director, Dr Mike England said: “The project provides an evidence base to inform our injury prevention strategy, and the development of guidelines for clubs on injury prevention and first aid.

“We are currently able to incorporate the findings into RFU coaching courses and other resources to help coaches understand the injury trends in the game and how to reduce injuries; good examples of this are the significant use of this data into the introductory coaching resource Rugby Ready and the current reviews of the adult level 1 and 2 coaching courses. It will also be used in the development of the new online coaching academy due to be launched this month, which will contain significant elements on injury prevention.

“This work plays a pivotal role in not only the prevention of injury but also in addressing the perception of the grassroots game that some spectators may have from watching higher level televised matches.

“We are also hugely grateful to Marsh for forming this partnership with the RFU as an important element of our risk management. Their proactive approach to the partnership, has been integral to the findings released today.”

To view the full audit, download here.