The England Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project Report published today shows overall stability among the risk of match and training injuries at Premiership Rugby clubs during the 2013-14 season.
The report, which has been produced since 2002 and is the most comprehensive injury dataset in professional rugby union, found that the overall risk of match and training injury across Premiership Rugby clubs remained within ‘expected range’ of season-by-season variations.
The volume of data analysed independently by Bath University from all 12 Premiership clubs and for England Senior team matches and training provides more robust findings than can be drawn from the study of a single club.
The incidents of training injury, although falling within the expected limits of variation, was one of the highest reported during the study period. There should be a continued focus on injury prevention efforts in this potentially more controllable environment.
Concussion was, for the third consecutive season, the most commonly reported Premiership match injury constituting 12.5% of all match injuries. Improving concussion awareness among players, coaches, referees and medical teams and concussion management has been a major focus of the English professional game and is likely to have contributed to this continued rise in concussion reporting.
• The overall risk of match and training injury in Premiership rugby clubs remained within the expected range during the 2013-14 season
• Continued decrease in recurrent injuries as a consequence of effective rehabilitation
• Concussion remains the most commonly reported match injury with a significant rise in awareness likely to have contributed to a rise in reported concussions
In October 2014, a mandatory online concussion awareness module for the professional game was launched by the RFU. Premiership Rugby and the RPA, with the aim to improve the understanding of concussion and the behaviours needed from all groups to manage it effectively. All registered professional players, coaches and referees completed the module within the two month deadline.
The study reports a continued decrease in recurrent injuries as a result of effective rehabilitation, including the use of practical tools to help medical teams and coaches evaluate when a player is appropriately rehabilitated.
Match hamstring injuries showed a 50% reduction from the three previous seasons, equating to 25 injuries less per season, reflecting a focussed injury reduction effort across the clubs.
• To view the report in full click here (with a link to http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/General/General/01/30/80/08/EnglandProfessionalRugbyInjurySurveillanceProjectReport2013_2014_Neutral.pdf)
The 2013-14 season saw the introduction of an electronic data collection method, capturing injury details through Rugby Squad (electronic medical record system) while integrating existing player medical records, resulting in a significant reduction in the time demand on club medical staff and generating positive feedback from practitioners.
Simon Kemp, RFU’s Chief Medical Officer said: “The Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project provides us with objective evidence of trends in injury risk in the senior men’s professional game.
“It is important to have a longstanding and large scale injury surveillance project like this, which goes back to 2002, as it provides the first step in any cycle of injury prevention. The 2013-14 season report, which follows results from previous years, does not support the theory that there is a rising injury trend in the professional game.
“However the injury risk reported does highlight the need to continue the co-ordinated approach to reduce injury risk by health care professionals, strength and conditioners, coaches, referees and game administrators.”
Phil Winstanley the Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby added: “No injuries are acceptable but everyone in the game has to be pleased that the number of match and training injuries at Premiership Rugby clubs remained stable during the 2013/14 season
“Player welfare is obviously a top priority at Premiership Rugby and it is absolutely essential that we have clear and objective data established over many years to inform our approach to this issue.
“Everyone involved should be very proud of this project which is the only one of its type in the world and which is now developing into a significant data set.
“We will never be complacent when it comes to player welfare and the report identifies areas where further work is required. However, we are also delighted to see the continued decrease in recurrent injuries which we believe to be a consequence of more effective rehabilitation and management of injuries.”
Richard Bryan the Rugby Director for the RPA said: "The injury audit is a vital piece of work and the 2013-14 version shows that, although the overall risk of injury in the Premiership remained stable, the game’s stakeholders have a joint responsibility to continue to monitor and to act to reduce injury risk wherever possible, for example in seeking to reduce the risk and severity of training injuries.
“The increase in the incidence of concussions during matches is also clearly an area that warrants attention, although it is recognised that greater awareness of concussion is a contributory factor.”