Study on worst rugby injuries

2013-09-03 00:00

CAPE TOWN — On South Africa’s rugby fields, hookers and lose forwards are most at risk to suffer catastrophic rugby injuries in the scrum.

This finding stems from data collected on the worst injuries in junior and senior rugby, which had been made available to researchers for the first time since the launch of the BokSmart programme in 2008.

Professor Mike Lambert of the University of Cape Town and the Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research Unit at the Medical Research Council, said the data covered injuries to 530 000 junior and 121 700 senior rugby players.

Any potentially fatal or permanently damaging head, neck, spinal or brain injuries are categorised as a catastrophic injury.

Although catastrophic injuries do not happen frequently — the data shows 54 in four years — such injuries cause the most long-term damage or can be fatal.

During the research period nine players died because of catastrophic injuries.

Based on the research, scrum rules had been adapted.

Lambert said the latest data do not show whether the catastrophic rugby injuries have increased or decreased, but such injuries are now reported, which enables researchers to study trends and pass on their findings to the South African Rugby Union.

“In a few years we should see if there is a change.”

Lambert said more and stricter rules would be put in place in especially junior rugby tournaments.

“The referee will have the power to prevent a match from starting if everything is not safe.”

He said there were also problems with farm rugby teams that pitched minors against adults.

The research that was published in the science journal BMJOpen, which shows that hookers, lose forwards, locks and props suffer the most injuries in South Africa’s senior rugby.

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