Objectives: Youth rugby union is a popular sport with a high injury incidence density (IID) and burden. This high risk has called for further research into the factors affecting the injuries in youth rugby. The aim of the study was to analyse time-loss IID and burden in multiple schoolboy rugby teams over a season and the potential factors associated with injury. Design: Prospective cohort Methods: All time-loss injuries were recorded from three schools for the whole season. Overall IID and injury burden were calculated, as well as for injury event, type, location and the match quarter in which they occurred and Poisson regression analyses were performed to determine differences. Results: IID was 28.8 (18.9–38.6) injuries per 1000 player hours over the season, with an injury burden of 379.2 (343.6–414.9) days lost per 1000 player hours. The ball-carrier had a significantly higher IID (11.3 (5.2–17.5) per 1000 player hours) compared to other events, and the joint (non-bone)/ligament injuries were the most common (IID of 12.2 (5.8–18.6) per 1000 player hours) and severe type of injury (burden of 172.6 (148.5–196.6) days lost per 1000 player hours). Conclusions: The IID was similar to previous youth rugby studies, however the injury burden was much lower. The South African youth cohort showed similar factors associated with injury for inciting event (the tackle) and injury type (joint (non-bone)/ligament) and location (lower limb) as seen in other studies in both youth and senior players.
Youth rugby is a popular sport in South Africa (SA) with a high injury incidence. The annual SA Rugby Youth Week tournaments attract the top age-group players in the country providing a sample of players for reliable injury surveillance. The aim of the study was to analyze the changes in time-loss injury rates at the SA Rugby Youth Week tournaments between 2011 and 2016, differences between age-groups, and to investigate associated injury risk factors. All confirmed time-loss injuries at the 4 age-group tournaments (under-13, under-16, and 2 under-18) from 2011 to 2016 were recorded. Injury incidence densities (IID) for years, tournaments, and injury risk factors were calculated and Poisson regression analyses were performed to determine differences. Time-loss injuries (n = 494) were reported over 24 240 exposure hours, with an overall IID of 20.4 (18.6-22.2) injuries per 1000 player hours. The year 2013 had a significantly lower IID compared to 2011. Injury risk decreased with increasing age; under-13 and under-16 had significantly higher IID compared to under-18 Craven Week. Tackling was the phase of play at highest risk, with an IID of 7.4 (6.3-8.5) injuries per 1000 player hours. Central/peripheral nervous system (CNS/PNS) and, therefore, the head/neck were the most commonly occurring injuries/location injured. In conclusion, within the SA Rugby tournament structure, the older players had a decreased rate of injury. The tackle event was still the phase of play with the highest injury incidence regardless of age. This increase in incidence is largely due to an increase in CNS/PNS injuries.