This study assessed the frequency of acute injury to the spinal cord in Irish Rugby over a period of ten years, between 1995 and 2004. There were 12 such injuries; 11 were cervical and one was thoracic. Ten occurred in adults and two in schoolboys. All were males playing Rugby Union and the mean age at injury was 21.6 years (16 to 36). The most common mechanism of injury was hyperflexion of the cervical spine and the players injured most frequently were playing at full back, hooker or on the wing. Most injuries were sustained during the tackle phase of play. Six players felt their injury was preventable. Eight are permanently disabled as a result of their injury.