Objectives: The purpose of this chapter is to review critically the existing studies on the epidemiology of pediatric rugby injuries and discuss suggestions for injury prevention and further research.
Data sources: Data were sourced from the sports medicine and science literature mainly since 1990, and from a prospective injury surveillance project in rugby undertaken by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney during 2002. Literature searches were performed using Medline and SportsDiscus.
Main results: Reported injury rates were between 7 and 18 injuries per 1,000 hours played, with the rate of injuries resulting in loss of playing or training time measured at 6.5-10.6 per 1,000 hours played. Injury rates increased with age and level of qualification. Head injury and concussion accounted for 10-40% of all injuries. In the UNSW study, concussion accounted for 25% of injuries resulting in loss of playing or training time in the under 13 year age group. Upper and lower extremity injuries were equally apportioned, with musculoskeletal injuries being the main type of injury. Fractures were observed in the upper extremity and ankle, and joint/ligament injuries affected the shoulder, knee and ankle. The tackle was associated with around 50% of all injuries. The scrum produced fewer injuries, but is historically associated with spinal cord injury.
Conclusions: Rugby is a contact sport with injury risks related to physical contact, primarily in the tackle. Most injuries affect the musculoskeletal system, with the exception of concussion. Spinal cord injury is rare, but catastrophic. Research is required to understand better injury risks and to reduce the incidence of shoulder, knee and ankle joint injuries, concussion and spinal injury.