Collegiate rugby union injury patterns

rugby world cup

BJSM eLetter from Henare R Broughton of Auckland Rugby referees’ Association.

The study presented by Hamish Kerr et al., Collegiate rugby union injury patterns in New England: A prospective cohort study, deserves comment. In a general sense the injury pattern may be attributed to the confrontational type of game that the players had been taught. The tackle features as the event with more injuries occurring as illustrated in the study. In this type of game the fact that T-boning occurs, that is, where the ball carrier runs directly towards an oncoming defender(s) the tackler(s) creates an opportunity for a front-on tackle where head/neck and shoulder injuries are a commonality for the tackler and lower limb injuries for the ball carrier.

Reference is made to ‘ball in play’ time of 42 percent in 2003 Rugby World Cup but at the Under 21 Rugby World Cup in 2006 this was 40 percent with an average of 134 rucks/game. These figures may suggest that most of the time more infringements were occurring and that there were more interaction instances between the ball carrier and the defenders. The authors however, suggest that U.S collegiate games may have lower ‘ball in play’ time and fewer rucks (Law 16) and tackles (Law 15) per game. Does less ‘ball in play’ time mean that there were more stoppages? More infringements occurring?

Nevertheless, the authors’ observations where there were fewer rucks in a game suggests that there may have been fewer tackles and a more open type of game was being played. Less tackle injuries could be expected if that were the case. The results from the data could have benefited from categorizing the injury data as relating to the defense injury pattern and the offensive injury pattern. Such an account would enhance the interpretations to be made of the data. This study provides an opportunity for relating injuries to how the game is played.A comparison with an open type of game may be worth an analysis.

Reference: The International Rugby Board. (2007). Laws of the game. Dublin: The International Rugby Board.

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