Hospitalisations from sporting injuries sustained while playing rugby were down during the financial year of 2019 to 2020 when compared to the previous two financial years.
Statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show there were 2,653 hospitalisations relating to rugby union and rugby league during 2019 and 2020. This is down from 4,644 hospitalisations reported during 2018 and 2019. Most of the hospitalisations were for young people. The 15 to 19-year-old age bracket had the highest rate of hospitalisations per 100,000 people. Overall, 2,215 men and 438 women were hospitalised with injuries from playing rugby, with 857 hospitalisations coming from the 15-19 age bracket.
Bai-Med Wollongong physiotherapist Lachlan Waters is part of the St George Illawarra Dragons under 21 physio team and said injuries are expected but players are prepared.
“Because footy is so ‘high-impact’, they’re definitely prepared for it and that’s the point of all the training that they do,” Mr Waters said.
“But there are always acute injuries that happen on the field.
“There are a lot of ankle injuries, they can be quite severe. You get some shoulder dislocations, concussion is in there as well. Corks can be quite painful, you might think of it as a bit of a bruise and keep going but they can be quite debilitating.”
According to the AIHW report, the most common rugby-related injuries were fractures and accounted for more than half of all the injuries with 1,344 incidences. Soft tissue injuries were the next highest total with 594 incidences.
As for the causes of injury, 1000 hospitalisations were from falls involving another person. Concussion and intracranial injuries were also high, 175 men suffered concussion-related injuries from rugby compared to women with 38. One hundred and thirty-three incidences of rugby-related concussion incidences were recorded for people aged between 15 and 24, the highest total of any age bracket for the sport.
Mr Waters said preparation for the sport, including training, was key to minimising the risk of injury.
“Strengthening and conditioning for all aspects of the game is important for any game,” Mr Waters said.
“It will be very dependent on the sport, but being able to do all the aspects of the game safely, with control through the joints and with muscle strength to deal with the sport is a huge part of preparation.
“During the lockdown, there were no sports being played and athletes were missing out on their pre-season. They’d come back to the footy season and they hadn’t had that continuing exercise or conditioning to the game and you see a lot of muscle injuries.”
Data from AusPlay estimates 296,400 people aged 15 and over participated in all rugby codes in 2019-2020, and 168,400 of the participants were aged between 15 and 24. Rugby league was more popular than rugby union, with 21,600 more participants.