The cumulative effect of playing rugby over many years decreases active cervical range of motion, especially in the forwards. This in itself should influence long-term neck care; however, it leaves the important question of how noticeable the acute effects of active cervical range of motion are following a single game. The active cervical range of motion was measured in 21 elite rugby players (mean age 24.4 +/- 4.3 years; average professional career of 7 +/- 3.4 years) before and after a single game of rugby at the start of the season. The active cervical range of motion was recorded in flexion, extension, left and right side flexion, plus left and right rotation using a cervical range of motion device. The results show generally decreased active cervical range of motion from before to after a game independent of position played. Rugby backs had significantly (P < 0.05) reduced active cervical range of motion in flexion, while forwards were affected in extension and left lateral flexion (P < 0.05). These results highlight that a single game of rugby can reduce functional capacity of the neck (active cervical range of motion), and the affected neck movement appears to be related to the role of positional play. The authors suggest that neck training and muscle damage repair should be an important part of a rugby player's post-game recovery to limit the reduction in functional capacity.