A 2-year Prospective Injury Epidemiological Analysis of Rugby Sevens in North America

Principal Investigator: Answorth A. Allen, MD.

Institution: Hospital for Special Surgery

Abstract: Rugby-7s a future Olympic collision sport, has a high incidence of injury. The sport is growing in the U.S. and there are no studies detailing match injury rates in the U.S. or North America.

Aims: To determine the risk of incidence in match injuries in North American Rugby-7s.

Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study, with international standards on rugby injury research.

Materials and Methods: Match injuries will be collected by tournament and team medical staffers, using a digital web-based injury catalog form (RISE Report) among 20,000 male and female players, annually (2016-2017). In North American under-15 to national candidate level events (USA Rugby Territorial and National Series, USA Sevens Championships).

Main Outcome Measures: Injury rates, risk factors and severity, calculated for match injuries.

Significance: This proposed study is aligned with NOCSAE research priorities, which include evaluating mechanical and biological mechanisms of injury and recovery, the effect of existing injury preventative equipment, and potentially develop injury prevention standards and data collection in this new collision sport. The re-inclusion of rugby into the 2016 Olympic games has supported its growth in the U.S. USA Rugby has touted to have exposed 5 million U.S. youth to this new contact sport over the past couple of years. The U.S. growth from 88,000 members (2010), to currently greater than 1.4 million participants, ranks USA Rugby as the 2nd largest membership (UK #1). Growth of Rugby-7s, is seen with over 181 Rugby-7s tournaments being conducted in the U.S. for 2012. There is a comparative lack of data on Rugby-7s, as well as U.S. rugby, or adhering to the consensus statement recommendations in data collection of epidemiological studies on rugby. Rugby-7s players sustain a considerable amount of injuries during tournaments. The literature on U.S. Rugby-7s, notes high head and cervical/neck injury rates (33%), and a similar finding was found in a follow up study on U.S. Rugby-7s 2010-13 Regional Tournaments (23%), which were both higher injury rates in rates as compared to the World Rugby male Rugby-7s (5%). This analysis will benefit larger governing bodies of the sport (USA Rugby, World Rugby and the U.S. and International Olympic Committee). Further analyses are needed to examine if this pattern is possibly found in all developing rugby nations. USA Rugby lacks an injury surveillance system, which is present for other major professional sports. Therefore, there is an opportunity and need for research-driven injury prevention guidelines for the sport of rugby. Furthermore, it is imperative to gain the injury characteristics that would allow the development and improvement of current safety gear. Healthcare providers who understand the risk factors for rugby-related injuries are better able to make safe return-to-play decisions.