Original articles

Match injuries in Southern Hemisphere professional rugby union: Impact of the International Rugby Board’s Experimental Law Variations

Colin W Fuller, Martin Raftery, Clint Readhead, Stephen GR Targett, Michael G Molloy


Objective – to examine the epidemiology of match injuries in Southern Hemisphere professional rugby union and assess the impact of the IRB Experimental Law Variations.
Setting – 1-season whole population prospective cohort.
Subjects – 27 teams (813 players) taking part in the 2008 Super 14 and Vodacom Cup competitions.
Outcome measures – incidence, severity, location, type and cause of injury.
Results – incidence in the Super 14 competition (96.3 injuries/1000 player-match hours; 95% confidence interval: 69.0 to 111.7) was significantly higher (p=0.003) than that in the Vodacom Cup (71.2; 60.0 to 84.5); injury severity was significantly lower (p<0.001) in the Super 14 (mean: 13.4 days; median: 5) than the Vodacom Cup (mean: 21.2; median: 12). There were no significant differences between the two competitions in type or location of injury: lower limb muscle/tendon (Super 14: 27.8%; Vodacom Cup: 25.7%) and joint (non-bone)/ligament (Super 14: 18.8%; Vodacom Cup: 24.3%) were the most common injuries. Injury causation was similar for the two competitions but there were significantly fewer ruck/maul (p=0.001) and more tackled (p=0.010) injuries in Super 14 compared to English Premiership rugby and fewer collision (p=0.002) and more tackling (p<0.001) injuries compared to Rugby World Cup. For the Vodacom Cup, there were significantly more tackling (p<0.001) injuries compared to Rugby World Cup.
Conclusions – the incidence, nature and causes of injuries in Southern Hemisphere professional club rugby played under IRB Experimental Law Variations were similar to those for professional club rugby in the Northern hemisphere and Rugby World Cup played under the previous Laws of Rugby.

Authors' affiliations

Colin W Fuller, University of Nottingham

Martin Raftery, Australian Rugby Union

Clint Readhead, South African Rugby

Stephen GR Targett, New Zealand Rugby

Michael G Molloy, International Rugby Board

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Epidemiology; Rugby injuries; Super 14 rugby

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2009;99(4):232.

Article History

Date submitted: 2008-09-26
Date published: 2009-03-31

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