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What are the common injuries in rugby and how to prevent them?

Rughby Injury Support
In: Health, Sports

Rugby is a high-contact sport that involves quick and abrupt movements that become the reason for several injuries. Acute injuries in rugby often occur due to sudden changes in the direction, tackling, or collision with other players. The surprisingly common site of injury in rugby is the upper extremity which bears the effect of force when rugby players run up against other players or hit the ground.

It is estimated that 1 in 4 rugby players are injured during the season. On average, every player performs 20 – 40 tackles per match. Consequently, neck injuries are common in rugby. However, it is estimated that up to 25% of these are caused when players of different levels perform or experience tackle. There are particular risk factors contributing to the injuries when practising or playing rugby.

For example, being a lower-ranked or less skilled player, playing a forward position, being tackled, and at the beginning of the season, the rugby players are at a high risk of injuries. Studies have shown that injury rates in rugby are estimated to be almost three times higher than injuries calculated in football. A study has also shown that more than 50,000 people seek medical attention for overall rugby injuries each year.

Here, you can get a detailed discussion of rugby’s most common injuries. As well as this, we have also provided our users with the potential preventive measures suggested by experts, helping prevent injuries in rugby.

Common injuries in rugby

  1. Head injuries/concussion

Head injuries are one of the most common incidences in rugby. A New Zealand journalist spoke with the retired and currently playing rugby players about their experiences in rugby injuries and retreatments. He concluded his studies that about 1200 people experience head injuries when playing rugby each year. It has been shown that about two-thirds of these injuries are either brain injuries or concussions.

Remember that scrumming, risk tackling, and precarious falls are the common causes of head injuries or concussions in rugby. A head injury from rugby usually results in headache, dizziness, confusion, mental clouding, visual problem, nausea or vomiting, feeling slow down, fatigue, and pressure on the head.

How to prevent head injuries in rugby?

The given preventive measures will help rugby players to avoid the risk of head injuries:

  • Follow the proper technique of side-stepping and tackling
  • Develop a training program including strength, coordination, balance, drill, and flexibility.
  • Wear the necessary protective gear, such as headgear and a mouthguard
  • Follow all the preventive measures suggested by your healthcare professional or rugby trainer
  1. Dislocated shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is considered another most common injury in rugby. Shoulder dislocation happens due to a direct blow during practice or game. It may also happen when a player falls or hits the ground. The common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder may include a visible deformity, bruising, swelling, intense pain, instability to move the joints, and more.

How to prevent dislocated shoulder in rugby?

Experts suggest the following preventive measures to help reduce the chances of the shoulder injuries in rugby:

  • Warm-up your body before practise and competition
  • Increase your shoulder strength with stretching exercises
  • Build up your endurance
  • Change your playing routine or position when you feel shoulder pain
  1. Hamstring strain

Hamstring strain, also known as a tear or pull in the hamstring muscles, usually occurs due to a sudden burst of movements. The injury is common in sports requiring hurrying and rapid changes of directions. As rugby sports require a quick and sudden movement of the legs or calves, rugby players are at a high risk of a hamstring strain.

The common symptoms of hamstring strain may include pain in the back of the thigh (especially when bending and straightening your legs), tenderness, bruising, and swelling in the back of the thigh. You may also feel weakness in your calf or leg that may last longer following the injury.

How to prevent hamstring strain in rugby?

You need to adopt the following preventive measures to help avoid the risks of the hamstring injuries in rugby:

  • You need to warm up your body before every practice and competition
  • Always try to keep your muscles flexible and strong by stretching exercises
  • Experts suggested a slow increase in the duration of exercises or practise
  • Every time you feel pain, stop the practice or other physical activities
  • Wear calf supports or sleeves to help avoid the injury
  1. Slipped disc

As rugby is a high-intensity sport, players are at a high risk of back injuries. The common back injury in rugby is slipped disc. A slipped disc usually occurs when the outer ring becomes weak or torn and allows the inner portion to slip out. Age is one of the main reasons for slipped discs. However, athletes or sportspeople involved in high contact sports such as rugby are also at a high risk of slipped disc. Tackling, defending, jumping, colliding with the opponents, and falling on the ground all can cause a slipped disc in rugby.

Whenever you feel pain in the lower back, numbness or tingling in your shoulders, neck pain, a problem when bending your back, muscle weakness, and pain in the buttock, you may have developed the slipped disc problem.

How to prevent slipped discs in rugby?

The given preventive measures are suggested by professional trainers and help you avoid the risk of back injuries during rugby practice and competition:

  • Warmup your body completely before practise and play
  • Learn proper tackling, running, jumping, and other playing techniques
  • Wear back supports to keep your back or spine aligned and well-positioned
  • Perform regular stretching exercises
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  1. Medial collateral ligament, MCL injuries

Most of the MCL injuries occur in rugby due to getting tacked. As well as this, forceful and sudden twisting, turning, and cutting can cause MCL tears. Moreover, a direct blow to the outer side of your knees may also result in MCL injuries.

The common symptoms of MCL injuries may include a popping sound at the time of injury, knee pain, tenderness along the inner side of your knees, stiffness, and swelling around your knees.

How to prevent MCL injury in rugby?  

It is advisable to follow the given preventive measures to avoid the risk of the knee ligament injuries when playing rugby:

  • Never forget to warm up your body before playing rugby
  • Take proactive steps to reduce the chances of the ligament sprain, stretch, and tear
  • Power and strength exercises help reduce the chances of MCL injuries
  • Wearing knee braces support your knees


Rugby is considered one of the high contact sports, contributing to many injuries, including head, back, knee, calf, or other injuries. The mild symptoms may lead to chronic ones when ignored or left untreated. Every time you feel any of the symptoms (mentioned above), you need to leave the field and start treating the symptoms. However, to avoid the chances of injuries and get a safe game experience, you need to follow the preventive measures (given above). Wearing rugby supports also helps prevent injuries. At 360 relief, you can find a variety of braces to help reduce the chances of injuries in rugby.

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