Objective: To determine injury profiles for the élite level competitions of football played in Australia.
Design: Over the 1992 seasons, all injuries were prospectively recorded from 26 clubs in football competitions which included the Australian Football League (AFL), New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) and New South Wales Rugby Union (NSWRU).
Results: Some 2398 injuries were reported. In Australian Rules football, the most common injury was the hamstring tear (13%); this also accounted for the most time missed due to injury (16%). In rugby league and union, the most common injuries were head and facial lacerations (11% and 20%) followed by concussion (8% and 5%). The injuries accounting for most time missed were fractures and knee ligament injuries in the rugby codes. In Australian Rules football there were more lower limb muscle strain injuries, a high proportion of which were recurrences, with a significant incidence during training sessions. In the rugby codes, minor injuries to the head and neck were more common, particularly in forwards. While rugby league players suffered the most injuries, AFL injuries were on average more severe and consequently the total time missed through injury by players in these two codes was very similar. Rugby union had a significantly lower injury prevalence at the élite club competition level than rugby league or Australian Rules football.
Conclusion: Injury rates in the élite football competitions are high, warranting ongoing analysis and further study in particular areas.