Forwards in schoolboys rugby are almost twice as likely to be injured

Schoolboys’ cup rugby forwards are almost twice as likely to injure their backs as their teams, according to a new study.

The research, which was carried out on 15 Irish schoolboy teams who played senior cup rugby over two seasons, found that shoulder injuries were the most common among the teenage teams, followed by head and neck injuries.

It also turned out that there were big differences in the type of injuries depending on team position.

The study, conducted at the University of Limerick, shows that shoulder injuries, mainly sprains and dislocations, accounted for almost a quarter of all injuries and were much more common than in adult professional players.

Concussions accounted for 14 percent of all injuries, with the incidence of concussions in forwards being three times that of backs. This is believed to be because they make more contact than the backs when dueling.

Meanwhile, defenders suffered far more ankle injuries than attackers.

The study recorded 207 match injuries that resulted in players being absent from rugby activity for 6,810 days in 220 games over two seasons.

Injury rates for adult male professional rugby were found to be lower than previously reported, while being comparable to the injury rate in international U20 professional competitions.

One of the main concerns was the high rate of shoulder injuries in schoolboys rugby compared to the adult amateur and professional game.

“In the individual analysis of injuries by body region, the shoulder was the most common, most severe and most debilitating in terms of injury frequency and in terms of subsequent non-game days – 23 percent of all injuries involved the shoulder,” said lead author Therese Leahy.

“Most of the shoulder injuries were serious and took over 28 days to recover.


The site of injuries for rugby forwards and backs

“The dislocation rate in shoulder injuries is almost three times that in professional sports. One of the reasons for this is that the shoulder is an inherently unstable joint that relies on the surrounding muscles for stability. In school-age players, this is not yet mature compared to professional players.”

The study that has just been published in the journal Sports health: A multidisciplinary approachconcluded that the high frequency and burden of shoulder injuries among forwards was “concerning” given the associated high risk of recurrence and the inherent instability of the shoulder joint itself.

Overall, the injury incidence reported in the study for Irish Senior Cup rugby was found to be lower than previously for elite rugby schools in England, particularly for head and neck injuries.

One of the most glaring results was the injury rate as a function of the number on the back of the jersey worn by the student players.

Over the two seasons, Forward suffered 134 match injuries, including 24 concussions and 18 shoulder sprains. The back suffered 73 injuries, including six concussions and 11 shoulder dislocation injuries.

Overall, the injury resulted in an absence from rugby activity for more than a week in 187 cases. Forward lock positions #4 and #5 suffered the most injuries, followed by the blindside flanker.

“Analysis shows that a senior cup school rugby player would need to play an average of 16 games to sustain an injury, with 21 per cent of all injuries occurring to the head and neck. On average, there was a head injury every 70 games,” Ms. Leahy said.

The study found that forwards were significantly more likely to sustain shoulder and head injuries compared to backs, with most of them occurring while tackling the ball carrier.

“The study shows a clear difference in injury trends between forward and back injuries at the student level, which has not previously been reported in the medical literature.

“Concussions and shoulder sprains were the most common injury diagnoses for forwards, while ankle sprains and shoulder dislocations were the most common injury diagnoses for backs.

“Identifying these injury trends has important implications for the design and development of future injury reduction strategies.”

Ms Leahy, who conducted the study as part of her PhD with the IRFU Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance project at the University of Limerick, said the results are being used to amend the Engage injury prevention programme. The program is being rolled out by the IRFU to amateur clubs to target injury trends among school teams.

Funded by IRFU and led by principal investigators Dr. Ian Kenny and Dr. The study conducted by Tom Comyn and three PhD students to date has focused on monitoring injuries in male and female amateur and cadet rugby teams.

“The higher rate of head and shoulder injuries among forwards suggests that more focused injury prevention strategies and more research on education and training around tackle technique are needed,” said Ms. Leahy.

“The higher rate of ankle injuries in the back was more commonly associated with non-contact activities, suggesting that a more individualized non-contact approach to back injury prevention strategies plays a role.”

It was also noted that the majority of match injuries occurred in the third quarter, with 40 percent of injuries sustained during that period.

“The increase in injuries in the third quarter suggests that fatigue or insufficient warm-up at halftime may be a factor warranting further investigation,” the study noted. Forwards in schoolboys rugby are almost twice as likely to be injured

Fry Electronics Team

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