Objectives: To investigate injury incidence and the influence of physical fitness parameters on the risk of severe injuries in players on rugby sevens university teams.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Methods: Rugby players from three universities (N=104; 90M:14F; 20.6±1.9years) were recruited before the beginning of the season. Players underwent pre-season assessments of power, strength, speed, agility, endurance, stability, and flexibility. Throughout the season, rugby-related injury and exposure data were collected. Potential predictor variables were analyzed using Cox proportional regression model to identify risk factors associated with severe injuries (time loss>28days).
Results: Thirty-one injuries occurred during the rugby season. The match and training injury incidence rates were 59.3 injuries and 3.3 injuries per 1000 player-hours, respectively. Lower limb injuries were most common and most severe. The ankle joint was the most prevalent site of injury, and ligamentous injury was most common (48.4%). Nine severe injuries were sustained resulting in an average time loss of 51.3±14.6days. Female (hazard ratio [HR]=8.35; 95% confidence intervals [CI]=2.01-34.8), slower (HR=3.51; 95% CI=1.17-10.5), and less agile (HR=2.22; 95% CI=1.26-3.92) players as well as those with hip flexors tightness (HR=1.12; 95% CI=1.00-1.25) were at significantly greater risk for sustaining severe injuries.
Conclusions: Limited studies are available on risk factors associated with amateur rugby players in the Sevens version. The development of gender-specific injury prevention measures that emphasize speed and agility training, and improve hip flexor extensibility may be important to reduce the risk of severe injuries.
Keywords: Agility; Physical tests; Risk factors; Rugby injuries; Speed.
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