Concussions account for a fifth of professional rugby injures in England, report says
Last Updated: 09/01/19 1:14pm
Concussion accounts for 20 per cent of injuries sustained by rugby professionals in England, a report has revealed.
The Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project (PRISP) has reported that while concussion injuries are down on last year - one fewer concussion every eight games - it is both the most common and highest burden match injury for the third consecutive year.
The report, which has been published annually since 2002, suggests that more needs to be done to reduce instances of concussion.
"If there is a desire to change player behaviour to reduce the risk of concussion, we believe that the threshold for receiving a card for a high-tackle is currently too high," the report said.
"Concussion accounted for 18 per cent of all injuries to the ball carrier and 37 per cent of all injuries to the tackler, highlighting the tackle as the key game event to consider when developing concussion and all injury reduction strategies."
This season the Rugby Football Union implemented a law trial in the Championship Cup, lowering the definition of a high tackle from above the line of the shoulders to above the line of the armpit.
The trial is part of a continued campaign by the governing bodies of rugby to protect players.
Simon Kemp, RFU medical services director, said: "There is strong evidence that while the likelihood of injury in the professional game appears to be stable, the increase in injury severity that we are seeing means that the overall burden of injury is increasing.
"The PRISP data suggests that more significant changes to the game might be needed to reverse these trends.
"Concussion remains a priority for us all and we are now looking at concussion prevention with the trial of a reduced tackle height in the 2018/19 Championship Cup.
"It is critical that all stakeholders - medics, coaches, officials and players - work together on possible solutions."
The report, which will provide the key focus areas of the Professional Game Action Plan on Player Injuries - a group formed by the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players' Association last year - also provided data on injuries suffered on artificial grass pitches.
The numbers suggest that there are no more injuries sustained by players who play on artificial grass pitches (AGP), but that those injured on the surface were injured for longer.
"When the data collected over the past five seasons is combined, the incidence of match injuries on natural grass and artificial turf are not different," the report continued.
"However, the severity of match injuries on artificial turf is greater than that on natural grass, with an injury sustained on artificial turf lasting, on average, nine days more than one sustained on natural grass (natural grass, 30 days; artificial turf, 39 days).
"We believe that understanding the unique interaction between a player's boot and an AGP will enable us to provide evidence-based guidance to players regarding the most appropriate boots to wear on AGPs and mitigate injury risk."
Nigel Melville, acting RFU chief executive said: "The annual PRISP data is critical to helping us understand trends in professional rugby. Mitigating injury risk in a contact sport is a complex area and requires everyone involved in rugby globally to work together if we are to truly address this.
"Since launching our action plan last March, we have seen greater collaboration with World Rugby and have instigated a tackle height trial in the Championship Cup which is currently ongoing.
"It's still early days - the action plan was launched towards the end of the 2017/18 season, but we believe the plan covers the key issues and we will use the 2017/18 PRISP injury data to shape the plan as it evolves and is embedded into the English professional game."