Background: The majority of Rugby Union (rugby) players participate at the amateur level. Knowledge of player characteristics and injury risks is predominantly ascertained from studies on professional or junior athletes in rugby. The objectives of the current study are to: (1) describe the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and physical characteristics of a cohort of amateur rugby players; (2) describe the incidence, severity and mechanism of match injuries in amateur rugby, and; (3) explore factors associated with rates of match injury in this population.
Methods: Participants (n = 125) from one amateur men's rugby club were followed in a one-season (2012) prospective cohort study. Match injury and match time exposure data were collected. A participant match exposure log was maintained. Baseline variables collected include: participant's age, playing experience, position of play, the SF-36v2 health survey, height and weight. Injury incidence rates (IIRs) per 1000 match-hours exposure were calculated. Injury sub-groups were compared by calculating rate ratios of two IIRs. Poisson mixed-effects generalised linear modelling was used to explore relationships between IIRs and baseline predictors.
Results: A total of 129 injuries occurred during a combined period of 2465 match-hours of exposure. The overall IIR was 52.3 (43.7-62.2) /1000 match-hours exposure. Moderate-severe injuries (>1 week time-loss from play) comprised 36 % of all injuries. Tackling was the most common mechanism of injury, the head/face was the most common body region of injury and sprain/ligament injuries were the most common injury type. Fewer years of rugby participation, lower BMI and lower SF-36v2 mental component summary score were associated with higher IIR in amateur rugby. Age, player position i.e., backs versus forwards and SF-36v2 physical component summary score were not associated with injury incidence.
Conclusion: Amateur rugby players report similar HRQoL as the general population. We found amateur players had a higher rate of injury and lower injury severity than previous amateur studies, but location, type, and mechanism were similar. In this study pre-season HRQoL and BMI were weakly associated with higher injury rate when controlling for other factors; a finding that should be interpreted with caution and clarified with future research.
Keywords: Athletic injuries; Epidemiology; Football; Rugby Union; Sports.