Concussion is the most common injury among amateur rugby players — for men and women alike.
A new study also shows players are likely to suffer an injury that forces them to take time out of the sport once in every 15 or 16 matches.
An injury database developed by sports scientists at the University of Limerick (UL) and the IRFU has released its first annual findings in what will be a six-year collaboration.
The IRIS (Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance) project tracked more than 600 players in the 2017/18 season from 19 All-Ireland league clubs over 418 matches.
It found that, on average, one injury defined as an incident requiring more than a day away from matches and training occurred in every match, with men injured to this degree once every 15 games and women once every 16.
Slightly more than half of all injuries — 54% — occurred during tackles, with a 54% chance the tackled player will be injured compared to 46% for the tackler.
Concussion was the most common injury among male players, accounting for 12% of injuries, followed by ankle ligament strains at 11%. Players were out of the game for 30 days and 25 days respectively.
The traumatic head injury and ankle ligament strains each accounted for 11% of injuries among females but absences were on average 23 days and 25 days.
The project comes amid growing concern about rugby injuries and, in particular, the long-term impact of concussion. Schools and underage clubs are being brought into the surveillance during the current season.
Tom Comyns from UL, co-principal investigator, said while injury rates here were comparable with the norm internationally, the database would provide the kind of detailed analysis that could make a real difference to the game here.
“It’s a really positive initiative from the IRFU,” he said.
The strength of this will be in the historical data sets that will build up. We’ll check out patterns and see if there are any preventative measures that can be taken to alleviate some of the injuries.
IRFU spokesman David O Siochain said all clubs and schools were being encouraged to take part.
“The more clubs that get involved, the more robust the data and the better the supports we can put in place around training techniques, injury prevention and managing recovery from injuries,” he said.
“One of the most interesting aspects will be seeing what’s happening in schools because there is some concern around that.
The game is very competitive at schools level and it will be very valuable to know how that affects injury rates.
The longest absences for men in the study were due to severe hamstring injuries, resulting in an average of 54 days out of the game, while serious ankle injuries in women resulted in 103 lost days.
Shoulders, wrists, and fingers were other areas most commonly hurt.