Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Unknown risks of youth rugby

Available evidence on risk of injury in youth rugby

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 28 January 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h434
  1. Grant Trewartha, senior lecturer1,
  2. Keith Stokes, senior lecturer1
  1. 1Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, UK
  1. g.trewartha{at}

We fully support and advocate for the need to quantify risk of injury in youth rugby union to provide the evidence base for injury reduction strategies.1 However, some contemporary evidence is available.

We previously (2006-08) studied injury risk in secondary schools and in professional academies in England (16-18 year olds). Using a 24 hour time loss definition, which includes many “minor” injuries, the incidence of match injuries for school players was 0.7 injuries per team per match.2 The incidence for academy players was 0.9 injuries per team per match. Nineteen of 341 recorded injuries required a visit to an emergency department (one injury every 18 matches for a given team), further reinforcing the notion that most rugby injuries do not result in hospital admission. Our analysis of injury risk from training activities reinforced the need to consider the extent to which full physical contact was needed in training drills and to ensure that players acquired the individual technical skills before being asked to use these skills in competitive contact situations.3

Injury surveillance is also carried out in senior professional and community men’s rugby,4 5 6 as well as in elite women’s rugby, to develop a picture of injury risk across the various levels of the sport. These data are published fully on

There is clearly room for comprehensive large scale injury surveillance systems to be implemented, particularly for documenting serious injuries sustained by young athletes as a result of participation in any sport, including rugby union. A better understanding of the comparative injury risk of specific sports, like rugby union, relative to other sports and activities would be extremely valuable to several groups, including parents, the medical community, and sport governing bodies.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h434


  • Competing interests: GT and KS receive research grant funding from the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and previously from World Rugby (formerly the International Rugby Board).

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