South African Journal of Sports Medicine

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Injuries at Johannesburg high school rugby festivals

D Constantinou, A Bentley


Background. Injuries occurring at the popular schoolboy rugby festivals in South Africa have not previously been evaluated. A rugby festival is a unique event with multiple matches occurring over a 5-day period and a potentially increased risk of injury compared with adult games.

Objectives. To analyse the prevalence and type of injuries over 2 years of a Johannesburg High School rugby festival, to compare the injuries between the 2 years and to compare the injuries between the 3 days of the festivals.

Methods. The study design was a retrospective, descriptive and observational study. The study population were participating rugby players at the two rugby festivals in 2010 and 2011 who came to the medical tent provided. A standardised medical form was used to capture data.

Results. A total of 626 players participated with 100 injury data sets analysed over the 2 years. The injury rate per player was 17% in year 1 and 15% in year 2. There was no statistical difference (p=0.65) in the injury numbers between the 2 years. The injury profiles between the respective days and between the 2 years were not statistically different. Most injuries were to the head/face (30%), with the majority being concussion related (6%). Tackles were the most common mechanism of injury. Overall 24% of injuries were deemed severe enough to stop the players from continuing play. Few injuries required referral for investigations or specialist physician care (19% and 2%, respectively) and most were managed with simple first aid at the primary care level.

Conclusion. The number, nature and mechanisms of rugby injuries at this rugby festival were similar to numerous local and international studies of schoolboy rugby players. Adequate standardised record keeping is recommended to increase knowledge and monitor trends.
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