Falling leaves, ripening berries and cooler, frosty mornings herald not just the start of Autumn but also the imminent arrival of the Rugby season. Whether you’re a player yourself or the parent or spouse of a player it’s worth being aware of the injuries that occur most commonly in this most physical of sports and knowing how to protect against them if you can.
One in four players get injured
It may not surprise you to learn that as many as one rugby player in four will be injured during the course of a season.
Rugby is a collision sport, making the possibility of trauma injury highly likely. Among the most common trauma injuries are:
- fractured bones
- facial fractures
- dislocated fingers and elbows
- cuts and severe bruising
- foot and ankle injuries are very common
- sprained ligaments and tendons are also common
Rugby players change direction rapidly and collide with other players, and these regular contact and rotational forces can lead to ligament sprains and tears in the knee. Shoulder injuries occur as a result of jolting contact with other players or with the ground. Unlike some other sports, rugby players wear no protective clothing so cuts and bruises are common.
Other common injuries
Concussion is also risk for rugby players. Signs that a player might be concussed include confusion, forgetfulness, dizziness, blurred vision or headache. It is important that someone with suspected concussion is not permitted to continue playing. They should be promptly assessed by a medical professional to rule out the risk of serious complications.
Injury rates are believed to be in the region of three times higher in rugby than in football. It makes sense, therefore, to do whatever you can to protect against injury even if you can’t rule it out altogether. Many of these are basic common sense but they can be easy to forget in the heat of a game.
Prevent and protect
By far the most important way of protecting yourself is to practice and build up the necessary strength, fitness and skill to avoid getting injured.
This is true of any sport, of course, but it is particularly key in a contact sport with high risk of injury.
Tackling, rucking and scrumming provide some of the greatest opportunities for injury so good technique is essential. Again, this comes down to practice coupled with good coaching. You need to know how to position yourself to avoid risky moves.
A good quality, properly-fitted mouth guard will protect the teeth and jaw. Good discipline is vital in rugby, particularly in forming the scrum. Never play at a level that outstrips your skills and abilities.
If you do get injured playing rugby, it’s important to rest and not to return to the sport before you are fully recovered.
As tempting as it can be to rush back, if you’re not ready you risk further injury which could keep you out of the game for even longer. You need to build up your fitness and level of endurance to be able to keep pace with your fellow players and be sure to focus on your core strength and flexibility.
If injuries don’t settle within a few days it is important to seek correct diagnosis and discuss relevant treatment with a specialist.