Ulster University reveals findings of first ever research into schoolboy rugby injuries in Northern Ireland.
Researchers at Ulster University, in collaboration with the Rugby Injury Surveillance Ulster Schools (RISUS) group, have revealed results of a major study that for the first time ever is exploring the types and causes of injuries in schoolboy rugby across Northern Ireland.
The three year research project, which aims to make the game safer and better inform future rule changes, is the largest prospective study of schoolboy rugby injuries to date.
It was carried out in 28 grammar schools across Northern Ireland, involving 825 players on 1st XV rugby squads with an average age of 16.9 years.
The research, which has been published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, is being delivered by Ulster University and the RISUS group, a consortium of experts from the medical and conditioning professions.
It is funded by the MITRE trust, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Ulster Rugby.
The first set of data collected over the 2014/15 season recorded 426 injuries of which 204 resulted in an absence from the sport for longer than 28 days, primarily due to fractures or sprains.
The three most common injury sites included the head/face, shoulder and knee.
Ligament damage accounted for 31.2 per cent of injuries followed by 19 per cent for concussion and 15.3 per cent for muscle damage. In addition, protective head guards or shoulder pads were not found to offer any additional protection from injuries to those areas.
Ulster University’s research highlights that players were compliant with current graduated return to play regulations following concussion and suggests the prevalence of incidents could relate to better awareness and recognition of the brain injury.
The research points to a trend of increased injuries in older, heavier players who regularly undertake weight training. The research group is carrying out further investigation into the relationship between player profile and injury associated with game exposure and playing load.