Due to the high-velocity nature of rugby, it is one of the sports with the highest number of injuries to players. Over the course of the rugby season, as high as one in four players will be injured. With each player performing, on average, 20-40 tackles per match so, with there being an average of 221 tackles per game in professional leagues, it is easy to see how the game may result in injury.
Depending on the position that you play and the level of severity of your collision, your injury can range from a slight bruise to concussion. So, what are the different injuries that can be a result of playing rugby?
One of the biggest and most dangerous forms of injury that can result from playing rugby is a concussion. In the UK, the Rugby Football Union’s annual injury audit found that concussion now makes up a quarter of all injuries sustained whilst playing the game, an increase of 17% from the year before.
A concussion is described as a type of traumatic brain injury; it can be caused by a bump or blow to the head, which is why a contact sport such as rugby can often result in this. After a player is hit during a tackle, and if they have been hit hard enough, the brain shakes back and forth quickly inside the head, causing an altered mental state and sometimes falling unconscious.
Although rugby players are typically used to repeated blows to the head, any player with a suspected concussion should be checked over by a medical professional or their coach before continuing to play. It is essential that their concussion is addressed, and that they are prevented from playing further if the condition is suspected.
Rugby is becoming increasingly popular with people under the age of 18. However, for those aged between 10 and 18, 35% of injuries are fractures, and of that, 24% involve damage to the clavicle. One of the reasons for this is due to the fragility of the collarbone, so even the slightest trauma to the area could result in a fracture.
Fortunately, most clavicle fractures will not require surgery, although treatment requires immobilisation for two-four weeks for the player to regain full control and a full range of motion upon healing. In addition to this, most players who break their collarbone can return to rugby around 12 weeks’ post-injury.
Muscular strains, sprains and contusions
For over 40% of the injuries experienced during a game of rugby, a diagnosis of a muscle strain or contusion is common. One of the main reasons for experiencing a bruise is the impact from a tackle or suffering a fall. In addition to this, experiencing a high level of force can also result in lacerations or scratches on the skin. Whilst some smaller scratches may be superficial and heal quickly unaided; there is the possibility that deeper lacerations need to be looked at by a medical professional, this may lead to stitches when a cut does not close naturally.
Dealing with a strain or sprain can be painful. A sprain, in which ligaments have been stretched or torn, or a strain in which the same happens but to a muscle or tendon are both extremely common in rugby. These types of injuries should be dealt with accordingly to prevent any further damage to the body. In both instances, players should avoid using the affected body part for up to eight weeks to ensure that it has properly healed.
If you’ve enjoyed our guide to rugby-related injuries, or perhaps you’re on your way to a rugby injury recovery, then why not take a look at some of our other blog posts here. If you’re a rugby player, we’d love to know what your favourite part about the sport is, so reach out to us on our social media channels and let us know!