Background: Although player fatigue and playing intensity have been suggested to contribute to injuries in rugby league players, no study has confirmed if the level of physical fitness is a risk factor for injury in rugby league players. The aim of this study was to identify risk factors for injury in subelite rugby league players.
Hypothesis: Low physical fitness levels are risk factors for injury in subelite rugby league players.
Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.
Methods: One hundred fifty-three players from a subelite rugby league club underwent preseason measurements of muscular power (vertical jump), speed (10- and 40-m sprint), and maximal aerobic power (multistage fitness test) over 4 competitive seasons. All injuries sustained by players were prospectively recorded over the 4 competitive seasons.
Results: The risk of injury was greater in players with low 10- and 40-m speed. Players with a low maximal aerobic power had a greater risk of sustaining a contact injury. In addition, players who completed less than 18 weeks of training before sustaining their initial injuries were at greater risk of sustaining a subsequent injury.
Conclusions: Subelite rugby league players with low speed and maximal aerobic power are at an increased risk of injury. In addition, players who complete less than 18 weeks of training before sustaining an initial injury are at greater risk of sustaining a subsequent injury. These findings highlight the importance of speed and endurance training to reduce the incidence of injury in subelite rugby league players.