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.
Background Though rare, rugby union carries a risk for serious injuries such as acute spinal cord injuries (ASCI), which may result in permanent disability. Various studies have investigated injury mechanisms, prevention programmes and immediate medical management of these injuries. However, relatively scant attention has been placed on the player's experience of such an injury and the importance of context. Aim The aim of this study was to explore the injury experience and its related context, as perceived by the catastrophically injured player. Methods A qualitative approach was followed to explore the immediate, postevent injury experience. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 48 (n=48) players who had sustained a rugby-related ASCI. Results Four themes were derived from the data. Participants described the context around the injury incident, which may be valuable to help understand the mechanism of injury and potentially minimise risk. Participants also described certain contributing factors to their injury, which included descriptions of foul play and aggression, unaccustomed playing positions, pressure to perform and unpreparedness. The physical experience included signs and symptoms of ASCI that is important to recognise by first aiders, fellow teammates, coaches and referees. Lastly, participants described the emotional experience which has implications for all ASCI first responders. Significance All rugby stakeholders, including players, first responders, coaches and referees, may gain valuable information from the experiences of players who have sustained these injuries. This information is also relevant for rugby safety initiatives in shaping education and awareness interventions.