Most Common Rugby Injuries and how to treat them!

So welcome to our first guest blog, written by Claire Bowes - this is part one of a two part series - Thanks to firstaid4sport for this post and I really enjoyed reading it. If you want to make a supply order then please get in touch with them: - I know personally that these common injuries are ones that I have come across.


Most Common Rugby Injuries and How to Treat Them . . .
As with any contact sport, it’s inevitable that some form of injury is likely to occur.  In such a fast paced game where tackles are the nature of the beast, it’s not uncommon to have multiple injuries throughout a game of rugby, albeit not always serious, but still, it’s best to be prepared.  With this in mind, we will look into the most common rugby injuries, and more importantly how to treat them.

According to the annual PRISP (Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project) study, the amount of
injuries in the Premiership were lower in the 2017/18 season than the previous season, which is great.  
That said, the time taken to return to play was on average 37 days which is an increase on the previous
season, however this was largely due to a rise in the highest severity grouping (84 days + recovery)
and a reduction in the lowest severity (2-7 days recovery).  

So, how does this relate to club teams?  Well, reducing the risk of injury in any division requires a
detailed understanding of the causes and of course a clear vision of what level of risk is acceptable,
as each players safety is of utmost importance.  Below, we have listed the most common rugby injuries,
starting with the most reported, so once we understand the injuries we can look at how best to prevent
them as a team.

Concussion - What is it?

Concussion is the result of impact to the head, and is the most common injury,
contributing to 20% of all match injuries in 2017/18.  Furthermore, concussion accounted for
18% of all injuries to the ball carrier and 37% of all injuries to the tackler, highlighting tackling
as a key part to consider when looking to implement injury reduction strategies.

How to treat it?

The RFU have created a concussion awareness programme where you can use their simple
“HEADCASE” acronym to check for concussion:

Ears and Eyes

Concussion usually appears within a few minutes or hours of the impact therefore,
if you do suspect concussion then it’s vitally important for the player to stop playing immediately,
rest for the foreseeable and apply an ice pack for 20-30 minutes every few hours to reduce the swelling.
 The symptoms should only last from a few days up to a few weeks, however if they continue then it’s
advised to seek further medical advice. In the meantime paracetamol is recommended to help with
any headaches, however it is not advised to take anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen as it may
cause your injury to bleed.

Hamstring Injury - What is it?

A hamstring injury is a strain or a tear to the tendons or large muscles at the back of the thigh.  
It is extremely common in the world of rugby due to varying factors such as overworked muscles,
poor warm up, sudden movements, a quick change in direction etc.  The typical grades of a hamstring
injury are:

Grade 1 - a mild muscle strain
Grade 2 - a partial muscle tear
Grade 3 - a complete muscle tear

How to treat it?

The first few days tend to be the most painful therefore we recommend following the RICE technique:

Rest - down time is essential to a speedy recovery so it’s best to avoid any form of physical activity.
Ice - apply an ice pack for around 20-30 minutes, every few hours to reduce any swelling.
Compression - an elasticated bandage around the thigh area will apply a light pressure and will
limit any movement or further swelling.
Elevation - Keep your leg raised as much as possible, again to reduce swelling.  

Neck Injuries - What are they?

With so many contact situations, it may seem impossible to avoid some form of neck or head injury,
especially when you’re part of a scrum, ruck or maul!  These are extremely close environments that
require strength and power, so a slight misfooting, slip or aggressive opponent and you could find
yourself with a nasty injury.  Whether this is a sprain, jar or twist, it’s a painful result and will more than
likely cause muscle strain.

How to treat them?

As with all head injuries, immediate rest is the first course of action.  Hot and cold packs are to be
applied to reduce any swelling and inflammation.  Then to relieve a stiff neck you could try simple neck
exercises to loosen the muscles after a reasonable rest time of course.  

Lacerations - What are they?

Lacerations are cuts and tears to the skin and are unfortunately common in rugby, with studded
footwear, rucks and tackles being accountable for most.  

How to treat them?

Minor cuts and scrapes can be treated pitchside with a sterile wipe and a large sports plaster if required.
 Whereas, a laceration is usually much deeper and may require the wound to be stitched or glued
therefore further medical assistance may be required.  

Cauliflower Ear - What is it?

Also known as perichondrial hematoma, cauliflower ear is caused by repeated trauma to the outer
ear causing blood clots, leading to tissue damage which in turn makes the ear appear “lumpy”.

How to treat it?

While there is no immediate remedy, it is advised to apply ice to the ear after impact to reduce the
onset of cauliflower ear.  However, if it is already visible then prevention for further cauliflower ear is
advisable in the form of protective headwear or bandaging.  If the condition worsens then corrective
surgery may be the next step.

Sprains - What are they?

Although sprains don’t appear to be as severe as a concussion for example, they can be just as
debilitating.  A sprain occurs when a muscle or ligament is torn and the severity depends on whether
it’s a partial or complete tear.  Sprains are one of the most common rugby injuries as they can occur
in many parts of the body including fingers, thumbs, legs, arms or ankles.

How to treat them?

If a sprain does occur, it will be extremely tender and you may even struggle to put any weight on the
affected area, therefore, we recommend using an ice pack to reduce any swelling and applying an
elasticated bandage or taping for added support during recovery.

Tackling and Training

Ok, so not technically an injury, but did you know that tackling is responsible for a huge amount of
rugby injuries . . . a whopping 52% in fact!  Of that, 28% of are sustained when tackling and 24% are
sustained when being tackled.

Then when it comes to training, the pitch is responsible for 38% of injuries with the severity rising to
its highest level and a record 37 days recovery time!  This can often happen when new or inexperienced
players go up against an experienced player, or if a player goes in too hard for a tackle.

In order for players to have a good season with minimal injury we recommend pre-season conditioning.
 This is a form of training that gradually increasing in intensity throughout the sessions, meaning they
will be match ready when the season begins, giving them more chance of being fully fit for the
whole game as opposed to suffering an injury when fatigue sets in.

Rugby First Aid Kit

So now that we’ve discussed the most common rugby injuries, let's talk first aid.  At Firstaid4sport, we stock a range of fully equipped, rugby specific first aid kits, packed with everything you need to administer fast and efficient pain relief.  Available in a range of sizes from small team to professional medic, we have everything you need for reliable pitch side assistance, so make sure you are match day ready.