Epidemiology of Adolescent Rugby Injuries: A Systematic Review

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Objective: Despite recent increases in the volume of researching professional rugby union, there is little consensus on the epidemiology of injury in adolescent players. We undertook a systematic review to determine the incidence, severity, and nature of injury in adolescent rugby union players. Data Sources: In April 2009, we performed a computerized literature search on PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (via Ovid). Population-specific and patient-specific search terms were combined in the form of MEDLINE subject headings and key words (wounds and injuries, rugby, adolescent).These were supplemented with related citation searches on PubMed and bibliographic tracking of primaryand review articles. Study Selection: Prospective epidemiologic studies in adolescent rugby union players. Data Synthesis: A total of 15 studies were included, and the data were analyzed descriptively. Two independent reviewers extracted key study characteristics regarding the incidence, severity, and nature of injuries and the methodologic design. Conclusions: Wide variations existed in the injury definitionsand data collection procedures. The incidence of injury necessitating medical attention varied with the definition, from 27.5to 129.8 injuries per 1000 match hours. The incidence of time loss injury (>7 days) ranged from 0.96 to 1.6 per 1000 playinghours and from 11.4/1000 match hours (>1 day) to 12–22/1000 match hours (missed games). The highest incidence of concussion was 3.3/1000 playing hours. No catastrophic injuries were reported. The head and neck, upper limb, and lower limbwere all common sites of injury, and trends were noted toward greater time loss due to upper limb fractures or dislocations and knee ligament injuries. Increasing age, the early part of the playing season, and the tackle situation were most closely associated with injury. Future injury surveillance studies in rugby union must follow consensus guidelines to facilitate inter study comparisons and provide further clarification as to where injury prevention strategies should be focused.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-479
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Athletic Training
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Aug 2011


  • injury incidence
  • injury surveillance
  • high school athletes


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