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The incidence and severity of injuries at the 2011 South African Rugby Union (SARU) Youth Week tournaments

JC Brown
E Verhagen
W Viljoen
C Readhead
W Van Mechelen
S Hendricks
MI Lambert


Background. Rugby Union, compared with other popular team sports, presents an above-average risk of injury to players that may increase with age and level of play. Elite schoolboy rugby players have been competing at the South African Rugby Union (SARU) Youth tournaments at the under-13 (CW13), under-16 (GK16) and under-18 (AW18 and CW18) tournaments annually since 1964. The injury epidemiology of these tournaments has yet to be established.
Objectives. To determine the injury incidence densities (IIDs) and severity of SARU Youth Week tournament injuries, if the IID increases with age, and the types of injuries at the different age group levels, in 2011.
Methods. All match-related injuries presenting to the Tournament Doctor during these tournaments were recorded and classified for severity and type, using the injury collection Consensus Statement for Rugby. Injury incidence per 1 000 match hours and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using overall player exposure time.
Results. Match-related IIDs for ‘all’ (combined: 47.9 injuries/1000 match hours) and time-loss injuries (combined: 23.1 injuries/1000 match hours) were not significantly different by age group, despite a strong tendency to indicate differences. The absolute number of injuries per match increased with age. In general, there was a higher proportion of concussions at the GK16, AW18, and CW18 compared with the CW13 tournament(s).
Conclusions. Time-loss IIDs at SARU Youth Weeks are similar to other elite junior rugby data. The absolute number and type/ classification of injuries per match may be more informative than IIDs alone for medical planning purposes.

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eISSN: 2078-516X
print ISSN: 1015-5163