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A Journal on Sports Medicine

Official Journal of the Italian Sports Medicine Federation
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Medicina dello Sport 2010 December;63(4):567-77

language: English, Italian

Youth rugby union injury rates and suggestions for injury prevention

Roi G. S., Bonanno D., Pacini D., Chiozzi F.

Isokinetic Medical Group, Bologna, Italy


Aim. The aim of this study was to analyze the incidence of injuries in youth rugby unions over 2 consecutive seasons.
Methods. The study population was 350 rugby players (age range, 7-14 years). Injury was defined as an acute traumatic event caused by an energy transfer greater than the body’s capacity to maintain its structural and functional integrity, with subsequent absence of the player from practice and/or the next match for at least 7 days.
Results. The accident rate was 0.5 per 1000 athletic exposure hours (practice and competition) and was about 14 times higher for matches than for practice. (z=-9.754; P<0.001). In youth rugby, 85% of injuries are caused by direct trauma (contact), chiefly during tackling, and predominantly involve the skeletal system (fractures in 49% of cases), especially the extremities, whereas joint injuries (21% of cases) and musculotendinous injuries are less frequent than in professional rugby.
Conclusion. The study results suggest that injury prevention in youth rugby union should include measures that improve and develop tackling skills in both the tackler and the tackled player. Adequate general physical fitness, together with correct nutrition, flexibility, strength and coordination training, and education in the principles of fair play, are equally important for implementing effective injury prevention.

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