Rugby Union is an exciting sport that demands strength, agility, and endurance. Although it is one of the most popular sports around the world, its high-impact nature means that the risk of injuries is high. As a result, there has been a large focus in recent years on how to prevent injuries and effectively return players to the field.
Most Common Rugby Injuries
A 2021/22 study from the UK found that thigh haematomas or “corks” are the most common rugby injury. Whilst they can be quite painful, they generally have minimal long-term impact on a player’s ability to perform.
This is followed by hamstring injuries, which typically occur during high-speed running. Hamstrings are more commonly injured by rugby backs due to their increased high-speed demands compared to the rugby forwards who are more likely to be injured in contact.
Concussions are the thirst most common injury that rugby players sustain. Concussions can occur due to direct impact to the head, or by a whiplash mechanism. Symptoms can vary; however, it is important to manage these properly in line with the Rugby Australia Guidelines – ideally under the supervision of a qualified sports doctor.
Less Common Rugby Injuries
Although they are less commonly injured in rugby, there are some injuries that can cause significant problems and result in a lengthy period away from the game.
Neck and spinal injuries are often quite highly publicised due to the potential for long-term neurological injury. Although not overly common, these injuries are more frequently sustained in forwards due to the demands associated with scrummaging and higher exposure to contact activities.
Knee injuries can occur with or without contact from the other players. Structures at the knee that are commonly injured in rugby include the ACL, MCL and meniscus. Injuries to the knee are quite significant and lead to the largest number of games missed.
Behind knee injuries, instances of shoulder dislocations or instability are responsible for the second most days missed due to injury. As with neck and spinal injuries, shoulder injuries (including ACJ and rotator cuff tears) are more common in forwards due to the higher contact demands.
Prevention and Rehabilitation
Preventing rugby injuries requires a multi-faceted approach. Proper warm-up and cool-down routines, as well as wearing appropriate protective gear, are essential. Additionally, coaches and trainers should emphasise correct technique, provide guidance on injury prevention exercises, and monitor players for signs of fatigue and overuse. Players should also be encouraged to seek the advice of physiotherapists or sports doctors if they have any significant concerns.
World Rugby Activate Program
We highly recommend the World Rugby Activate Program for injury prevention. Developed by sports medicine professionals, and backed by research, it has been shown to reduce musculoskeletal injury risk, as well as concussions.
The Activate Program is tailored for different age groups, and focuses on general movement control and skill, conditioning and athletic performance, and physical robustness.
Rugby Australia has very strict protocols and policies around the management of head injuries and concussion.
On the Day: RECOGNISE – REMOVE – RECORD – REFER
If a player has any signs of symptoms of a potential head injury or concussion, they should be removed from the field of play immediately. No person (e.g. doctor, physio, trainer or coach) can over-ride the requirement of a player to come off the field.
Following the Injury: REST – RECOVER – RECORD – RETURN
- Any player who is diagnosed as having concussion the stepwise graduated return to play (GRTP) process must be followed.
- For adults, the minimum time required to go through the GRTP process is 12 days.
- For players under the age of 19, the minimum time required to go through the GRTP process is 19 days.
However, if the player does not complete the Referral and Return Form, they will be excluded indefinitely from full contact training and match play.
Rugby Australia Insurance Policy
The National Risk Management and Insurance Program is provided so that players and club administrators may have immediate access to policy benefits and procedures of the insurance program.
Rugby Australia and Gallagher are committed to provide the rugby community with high level cover whilst maintaining the affordability of registration.
The Rugby Australia Insurance can cover Personal Injury Insurance, Public Liability Insurance, Professional Indemnity Insurance, Management Liability.
Where implemented, this Personal Injury Insurance Program provides specified benefits to players who are injured while participating in rugby. This excludes any medical costs that are covered (or partly covered) by Medicare.
Rugby Union is a physically demanding contact sport that carries inherent risk of injury. Understanding common injuries, their causes, and prevention strategies can assist players, coaches and trainers in reducing this risk. By incorporating warm up routines, as well as specific strength and conditioning measures, players can spend more time on the field and perform at their best.
Article by Zoe Russell
Sports Physiotherapy FAQs
Sports Physiotherapy is the specialised branch of physiotherapy which deals with injuries and issues related to spokespeople. Practitioners with additional formal training within Australia are Sports & Exercise Physiotherapists.
What is Sports Physiotherapy?
Sports injuries do differ from common everyday injuries. Athletes usually require high-level performance and demands placed upon their bodies, which stresses their muscles, joints and bones to the limit. Sports physiotherapists help athletes recover from sporting injuries and provide education and resources to prevent problems. Each sports physiotherapist usually has sport-specific knowledge that addresses acute, chronic and overuse injuries. Their services are generally available to sportsmen and women of all ages engaged in sports at any level of competition.
Members of Sports Physiotherapy Australia (SPA) have experience and knowledge of the latest evidence-based practice, professional assessment and diagnosis of sports injuries, and effective hands-on management techniques and exercise protocols to assist recovery and prevent future damage. SPA members have access to the most recent advances in sports physiotherapy. You'll be pleased to know that most PhysioWorks physiotherapists and massage therapists are particularly interested in sports injury management.
General Sports Physio FAQs
- Sports Physiotherapy
- Acute Sports Injury Clinics
- Sports Physiotherapy Treatment
- Youth Sports Injuries
- Sports Injury? What to do? When?
- When Can You Back to Sport?
- Sports-Related Injuries
- Knee Sports Injuries
- Sports Health Conditions
Common Muscle Injuries
Muscle pain, also known as myalgia, can result from various causes and can affect different areas of the body. Managing and preventing discomfort requires a clear understanding of these common muscle injuries. This comprehensive guide aims to explore several sources of muscle pain, including injuries in the neck and back, strains in the lower limbs, conditions in the upper limbs, systemic causes, and more.
To provide valuable insights into the management of common muscle injuries, this guide offers answers to frequently asked questions and suggests products that can aid in your recovery. Access additional information about each specific injury by clicking the provided links.
Neck & Back Muscle Injuries
Lower Limb Muscle Injuries
Upper Limb Muscle Injuries
Systemic Causes of Myalgia
More Information: Myalgia
FAQs & Products
Common Ligament Injuries
Ligament injuries are common in the human body, often causing pain, discomfort, and limitations in mobility.
Various body parts are prone to ligament injuries, such as the knee, ankle, shoulder, wrist, hand, and spine. Among the most prevalent are knee ligament injuries, which include ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) injuries, as well as MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) and LCL (Lateral Collateral Ligament) sprains.
In addition, ligament injuries can affect other areas, such as the shoulder, leading to AC (Acromioclavicular) joint injuries and dislocated shoulders. Wrist and hand ligament injuries, including thumb and finger sprains, are also common. Furthermore, ligament injuries can occur in the spine, resulting in back and neck sprains and conditions like "text neck" and whiplash. Understanding these common ligament injuries is essential for prevention, early diagnosis, and effective treatment, enabling individuals to regain their functionality and resume their daily activities.
Knee Ligament Injuries
- Knee Ligament Injuries
- ACL Injury
- PCL Injury
- MCL Sprain
- LCL Sprain
- Posterolateral Corner Injury
- Patella Dislocation
- Superior Tibiofibular Joint Sprain