Training Volume & Soft Tissue Injuries In Rugby

training volume and soft tissue injuries in rugby

Rugby union is considered to have one of the highest injury incidences of any sport. The overall injury incidence for matches in professional rugby union players is reported as 81/1000 player hours.

rugby tackle

In adolescent players, match injury incidence is 12–22/1000 hours, whereas elite junior academy and schoolboy rugby players report match injury incidence as 47 and 35/1000 player hours, respectively.

Soft-tissue injuries such as bruises and sprains have been identified as the most common types of injuries sustained by players. 

rugby injury

In senior men’s professional rugby union, muscle/tendon and joint (non-bone)/ ligament injuries (40 and 34 injuries/1000 player hours, respectively) were responsible for the highest incidence of all injury types.

Ligament injuries/strains/sprains and contusions/ haematomas were responsible for 15.7–47.2% and 2.7–46% of total injuries, respectively, in junior (under 21 years) rugby union and rugby league players.

rugby knee injury

The lower limb region is the most commonly injured anatomical location with 47 injuries/ 1000 hours for senior professional rugby union players and 3.4–46.8% of injuries for junior rugby union and rugby league players.

A study aimed to investigate the relationship between training volume and soft tissue injury incidence and characterise soft tissue injury in rugby union players


A systematic search of electronic databases was performed in the study. The search strategy combined terms covering – training volume and injury, and rugby union, and players of all levels.

15 studies were collected and analysed. Studies were included if they reported: male rugby union players, a clear definition of a rugby union injury, the amount of training volume undertaken by participants, and epidemiological data for soft-tissue injuries including the number or incidence.

medical records

Data sources were collected in Medline, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science, Embase, PubMed.


Overall match and training injury incidence ranged from 3.3 to 218.0 injuries/1000 player match hours and 0.1–6.1 injuries/1000 player training hours, respectively.


Muscle, tendon, joint (non-bone), and ligament injuries were the most frequently occurring injuries. The lower limb was the most prevalent injury location. 

The results indicate that muscle and tendon soft tissue injury incidence in matches is greater at the professional/semi-professional level of play. The higher incidence of injury in the highest level of play has been reported in studies collected. 

injury time

In rugby 7s, joint (non-bone) and ligament, and muscle and tendon injuries have been reported to be responsible for 54.2 and 34.7 injuries/1000 match hours, respectively, while lower limb injury incidence was 73.5 injuries/1000 match hours.

Collision events were responsible for the highest injury incidence for all injury mechanisms. 

rugby tackle

For non-contact, running was responsible for the highest injury incidence. Previous studies show that rugby league players who spent more time running at lower intensities during practice were at reduced risk of lower limb injury, and low-to-moderate intensity running activities may provide a protective effect against injury.

The lack of reporting training volumes in hours per player per week limited the ability of the researchers to investigate associations between training volume and injury incidence.


  • A higher level of play may result in higher match injury incidence.
  • Muscle and tendon injuries were the most common type of soft tissue injury.
  • The lower limb was the most common location of injury in rugby union players.
  • Running was responsible for the highest injury incidence during non-contact events.


PMID: 28525884

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