BACKGROUND : Professional rugby union is a contact sport with a high risk of injury.
OBJECTIVE : To document the incidence and nature of time-loss injuries during the 2012 Super
DESIGN : Prospective cohort study
SETTING : 2012 Super Rugby tournament (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
PARTICIPANTS : 152 players from 5 South African teams
METHODS : Team physicians collected daily injury data through a secure, web-based electronic
platform. Data included size of the squad, type of day, main player position, training or match
injury, hours of play (training and matches), time of the match injury, mechanism of injury,
main anatomical location of the injury, specific anatomical structure of the injury, the type of
injury, the severity of the injury (days lost).
RESULTS : The proportion (%) of players sustaining a time-loss injury during the tournament
(IPP) was 55%, and 25% of all players sustained >1 injury. The overall incidence rate (IR per 1000 player-hours) of injuries was 9.2. The IR for matches (83.3) was significantly higher
than for training (2.1) and the IR was similar for forwards and backs. Muscle/tendon (50%)
and joint/ligament (32.7%) injuries accounted for >80% of injuries. Most injuries occurred in
the lower (48.1%) and upper limb (25.6%). 42% of all injuries were moderate (27.5%) or
severe (14.8%), and tackling (26.3%) and being tackled (23.1%) were the commonest
mechanisms of injury. The IR of injuries was unrelated to playing at home compared with
away (locations > 6 hours time difference).
CONCLUSION : 55% of all players were injured during the 4-month Super Rugby tournament
(1.67 injuries / match). Most injuries occurred in the lower (knee, thigh) or upper limb
(shoulder, clavicle). 42% of injuries were severe enough for players to not play for > 1 week.