Personal Injury

Six Nations: What are the most common rugby injuries?

Estimated read time: 4 mins

Charlotte Todd, January 30, 2020

As the rugby union season is well underway and the annual Six Nations tournament kicks off, players both amateur and professional are at risk of injury. An average of 40% of players have suffered an injury, with 12% being reported as “severe”. This can rule a player out for at least one game and potentially impact their day to day life.

Due to the physical, fast-paced nature of the game, it’s no wonder that players suffer more than their fair share of trauma injuries.

When do rugby injuries occur?

Over half of rugby injuries occur during matches compared to training. Forwards are at the highest risk of injury due to their greater involvement in the scrums and during tackles. Some 89% of forwards sustained injuries associated with contact events compared to 76% of backs, according to the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

For the 2017-18 season, 76% of all injuries were sustained during contact events, with 48% occurring at the tackle for amateur players.

During the 2017-18 season, the RFU reported that there were more injuries at the start of the season (September). This could be a result of harder pitches, a lack of appropriate pre-season training or players who may be more susceptible to injury.

Once the season is underway, most injuries occur during a rugby match, particularly in the second half of a game, as players of all levels tend to become fatigued.

Who is more at risk: professionals or amateurs?

Professional rugby players are at a significantly higher risk of injury, with 60 injuries per 1,000 players hours. However, at amateur and junior level, an injury caused by a big tackle can be significantly greater negative outcome.

Professional players undergo rigorous physical training, as well as training on how to fall correctly and diminish the impact of a heavy tackle. While the same is generally true for amateur players, it is not done to the same extent. This leaves these players worse off than their professional counterparts, should they pick up an injury.

What are the most common rugby injuries?

  • Concussion

Concussion is a continuous concern for rugby players, coaches and the families of players as the effects can cause significant long-term issues if it is not correctly identified or managed.  Concussion accounted for 15% of all rugby injuries at amateur level reported to the RFU in 2017-2018 and is the most common diagnosis of injury on a rugby field.

Most people make a full recovery from concussion. However, a small proportion of individuals may suffer from persistent symptoms, which can have a major impact on quality of life, education and work.

Repeated concussion can lead to long-term consequences, which may include rare neurodegenerative conditions such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). CTE usually begins gradually after several years of receiving repetitive blows to the head, with a set of typical symptoms which gradually develop over time, eventually leading to dementia.

  • Lower limb injuries

The most commonly injured region of the body at amateur levels rugby is the lower limb, accounting for 40% of all injuries.

Hamstring injuries are the second most common injury to professional players and account for 6% of all non-contact injuries at amateur level. Hamstring injuries generally affect players in the backs, mainly due to the nature of their position on the field and their role within the team.

Meanwhile, the knee suffers 16% of lower limb injuries. Knee injuries can cause significant problems for the player, resulting in the longest recovery time. Amateur players miss an average of nine matches after sustaining an injury to the knee.

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are typically a severe knee injury and are the second most common lower limb injuries in professional players. ACL injuries are more common in forwards and can cause significant damage, often requiring corrective surgery. The RFU recorded 4,262 ACL injuries to professional players during training in 2017-18 season.

  • Upper body injuries  

Shoulder injuries make up for 20% of all rugby injuries, with 35% of these being reoccurrences – often due to lack of treatment following an initial injury. 

Much like other types of rugby injury, shoulder injuries occur most commonly when a player is being tackled. However, they also commonly occur during the scrum. In professional rugby, shoulder dislocations were the most common injuries during the training in the 2017-2018 season, ranking as the fourth highest burden injury sustained while training.

Due to the complexity of the shoulder, these injuries can be difficult to treat and can result in lengthy recovery times. In cases where the severity of the injury is relatively low, physiotherapy and other non-invasive methods can be used to aid recovery.

However, most players sustaining a serious injury are often unable to return to their pre-injury level of play without surgery, which ultimately affects their day to day life, as well as their rugby playing careers.

If you have been injured through someone else’s negligent action or aggressive behaviour when playing rugby, you may be able to claim injury compensation. First4Lawyers are here to help. To find out more, just give us a call, request a call back or start your claim online.

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