Epidemiology of injuries in Portuguese senior male rugby union sevens: a cohort prospective study

Phys Sportsmed. 2018 May;46(2):255-261. doi: 10.1080/00913847.2018.1441581. Epub 2018 Feb 27.


Objectives: To assess the incidence, type and location of injuries sustained during the Portuguese rugby union sevens circuit. To investigate the influence of players' training loads on injury risk.

Methods: A prospective cohort study recording time-loss injuries was conducted with all teams competing in the Portuguese national rugby sevens circuit (eight from the top-tier and seven from the second-tier). Main outcome measures included: incidence rate, anatomical location, type, injury incident and severity. Data were also collected regarding players' training loads. Fisher's exact test was used to estimate the relative risk of suffering an injury during the sevens season and training sevens during the fifteens season.

Results: A total of 27 injuries were recorded corresponding to an incidence rate of 133.9 injuries per 1000 player match-hours. The average severity was 22.22 days. Contact events preceded 81.5% of injuries. Most injuries occurred in the lower limb (66.7%) and were joint/ligament or muscle/tendon injuries (85.1%). The association between injuries and lower volume of training during the sevens season was identified for the second-tier (p = 0.021). For the same level, an inverse relation between training hours and injury severity was also found (p = 0.008). Top-tier players training sevens and fifteens simultaneously during the year presented a significant increase of injury risk (relative risk = 3.2; p = 0.011).

Conclusions: Injury incidence in our study is similar to that reported for international sevens, although severity is lower. An association between training loads and the occurrence of injuries was found for both tiers, although with differential results, thus reinforcing the need to customize players' preparation. Further studies at non-elite competitions are needed to gather significant data to accurately formulate future injury prevention protocols or recommend modifications to game laws or competition formats, aiming at players' welfare.

Keywords: Rugby sevens; athletic injuries; epidemiology; rugby union.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Joints / injuries
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Male
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries*
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Portugal
  • Prospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Soft Tissue Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Tendon Injuries / epidemiology
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult