The economic burden of time-loss injuries to youth players participating in week-long rugby union tournaments

J Sci Med Sport. 2015 Jul;18(4):394-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2014.06.015. Epub 2014 Jul 16.


Objectives: Rugby Union ("rugby") is a popular sport with high injury risk. Burden of injury is described by the incidence and severity of injury. However reports have ignored the monetary cost of injuries. Therefore the aim of this study was to describe the monetary cost associated with youth rugby injuries.

Design: This descriptive study quantified medical treatments of injured players at the South African Rugby Union Youth tournaments in 2011/2012 and the days of work parents missed as a result of the injuries. A health insurer used these data to calculate associated costs.

Methods: Legal guardians of the 421 injured players were contacted telephonically on a weekly basis until they returned to play. Treatments costs were estimated in South African Rands based on 2013 insurance rates and converted to US$ using purchasing power parities.

Results: Of the 3652 players, 2% (n=71) sought medical care after the tournament. For these players, average treatment costs were high (US$731 per player, 95% CI: US$425-US$1096), with fractures being the most expensive type of injury. Players with medical insurance had higher costs (US$937, 95% CI: US$486-US$1500) than those without (US$220, 95% CI: US$145-US$302).

Conclusions: Although a minority of players sought follow-up treatment after the tournaments, the cost of these injuries was high. Players without medical insurance having lower costs may indicate that these players did not receive adequate treatment for their injuries. Injury prevention efforts should consider injuries with high costs and the treatment of players without medical insurance.

Keywords: Football; Football/economics; Football/economics/cost analysis; Football/injuries (MeSH terms).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletic Injuries / economics
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Back Injuries / economics
  • Child
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / economics
  • Football / economics*
  • Football / injuries*
  • Fractures, Bone / economics
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Male
  • Neck Injuries / economics
  • South Africa
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Upper Extremity / injuries
  • Wounds and Injuries* / economics