United States Under-19 Rugby-7s: Incidence and Nature of Match Injuries During a 5-year Epidemiological Study
Background: There is a lack of injury data for the new Olympic sport of Rugby-7s, particularly for involved youth.
Objective: To determine injury rates and characteristics for players participating in U.S. Rugby-7s U19 (under 19 years of age) tournaments.
Methods: Injury data were collected, using the Rugby Injury Survey & Evaluation report methodology, at 24 U.S. Rugby-7 s U19 tournaments over 30 tournament days (2010–2014). Tournament medical-attention injuries and time-loss injuries (days absent before return to training/competition including post tournament) were recorded.
Results: During the 2101 playing hours (3072 males, aged 17.2 ± 1.5 years; 732 females, 16.6 ± 1.3 years of age), there were 173 tournament injuries with an overall injury incidence of 82.4/1000 player-match-hours (ph) (CI 70.5–95.6). Acute injuries (79.5/1000 ph) occurred during tackling (56.2/1000 ph) and involved joints/ligaments (32.8/1000 ph) of lower extremities (31.9/1000 ph). Head and neck injuries, including concussions, were common (males 21.9/1000 ph; females 22.0/1000 ph). Medical-attention injury incidences (49.5/1000 ph; n = 104; 95% CI 40.5–60.0) were higher than time loss (32.8/1000 ph; n = 69; 95% CI 25.5–41.6). Overall, injury incidences found no difference between sex (RR 0.78; p = 0.369). Time-loss injuries resulted in an average of 35.5 d to return to sport.
Discussion: This study is the first to report match injury incidences for U19 participants in Rugby-7s. Overall, match injury incidence among U.S. U19 Rugby-7s tournaments was similar compared to adult U.S. community Rugby-7s. Recurrent injury risk was notable in this population. Community injury surveillance studies are essential to understand risk from participation in amateur sports. Knowledge of these injury patterns in U19 Rugby-7s will help identify areas to direct resources to enable growth of Rugby-7s in youths and emerging countries being exposed to Rugby-7 s. Age-based injury frequency and patterns in rugby and its various formats are needed for the development of evidence-based, sport-specific, and population-specific injury prevention initiatives.
Conclusions: The match injury incidence of U19 participants in U.S. Rugby-7s was similar to the incidence among adult participants. Recurrent match injury risk was high at 23%. There were no significant differences in injury incidences between males and females. The first three matches of a tournament day result in the most injuries.