How much rugby is too much? A seven-season prospective cohort study of match exposure and injury risk in professional Rugby Union players

Sean Williams, Grant Trewartha, Simon Kemp, John H M Brooks, Colin W Fuller, Aileen E Taylor, Matthew Cross, Gavin Shaddick, Keith Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Objectives: To investigate the influence that match exposure has upon injury risk in Rugby Union. Method: A seven-season (2006/7 2012/13) prospective cohort study of time-loss injuries in 1253 English Premiership professional players was conducted. Players’ 12-month match exposure (number of matches a player was involved in for ≥20 mins in the preceding 12 months) and 1-month match exposure (number of full-game equivalent [FGE] matches in preceding 30 days) were assessed as risk factors for injury using a nested frailty model and magnitude-based inferences. Results: Twelve-month match exposure was associated with injury risk in a non linear fashion, with players who had been involved in less than ≈15 or greater than ≈35 matches over the preceding 12-month period being more susceptible to injury. Monthly match exposure was linearly associated with injury risk (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.14 per 2-SD [3.2 FGE] increase, 90% CI: 1.08 1.20; likely harmful), although this effect was substantially attenuated for players in the upper quartile for 12-month match exposures (>28 matches).Conclusion: A player’s accumulated (12-month) and recent (1-month) match exposure substantially influences their current injury risk. Careful attention should be paid to planning the workloads and monitoring the responses of players involved in a: 1) high (>≈35) number of matches in the previous year; 2) low (<≈15) number of matches in the previous year; 3) low-moderate number of matches in previous year but who have played intensively in the recent past. These findings make a major contribution to evidence-based policy decisions regarding match workload limits in professional Rugby Union.
LanguageEnglish
Pages2395-2402
JournalSports Medicine
Volume47
Issue number11
Early online date30 Mar 2017
DOIs
StatusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

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Football
Cohort Studies
Prospective Studies
Wounds and Injuries
Workload
Odds Ratio

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How much rugby is too much? A seven-season prospective cohort study of match exposure and injury risk in professional Rugby Union players. / Williams, Sean; Trewartha, Grant; Kemp, Simon; Brooks, John H M; Fuller, Colin W; Taylor, Aileen E; Cross, Matthew; Shaddick, Gavin; Stokes, Keith.

In: Sports Medicine, Vol. 47, No. 11, 01.11.2017, p. 2395-2402.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Williams, Sean ; Trewartha, Grant ; Kemp, Simon ; Brooks, John H M ; Fuller, Colin W ; Taylor, Aileen E ; Cross, Matthew ; Shaddick, Gavin ; Stokes, Keith. / How much rugby is too much? A seven-season prospective cohort study of match exposure and injury risk in professional Rugby Union players. In: Sports Medicine. 2017 ; Vol. 47, No. 11. pp. 2395-2402
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abstract = "Objectives: To investigate the influence that match exposure has upon injury risk in Rugby Union. Method: A seven-season (2006/7 2012/13) prospective cohort study of time-loss injuries in 1253 English Premiership professional players was conducted. Players’ 12-month match exposure (number of matches a player was involved in for ≥20 mins in the preceding 12 months) and 1-month match exposure (number of full-game equivalent [FGE] matches in preceding 30 days) were assessed as risk factors for injury using a nested frailty model and magnitude-based inferences. Results: Twelve-month match exposure was associated with injury risk in a non linear fashion, with players who had been involved in less than ≈15 or greater than ≈35 matches over the preceding 12-month period being more susceptible to injury. Monthly match exposure was linearly associated with injury risk (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.14 per 2-SD [3.2 FGE] increase, 90{\%} CI: 1.08 1.20; likely harmful), although this effect was substantially attenuated for players in the upper quartile for 12-month match exposures (>28 matches).Conclusion: A player’s accumulated (12-month) and recent (1-month) match exposure substantially influences their current injury risk. Careful attention should be paid to planning the workloads and monitoring the responses of players involved in a: 1) high (>≈35) number of matches in the previous year; 2) low (<≈15) number of matches in the previous year; 3) low-moderate number of matches in previous year but who have played intensively in the recent past. These findings make a major contribution to evidence-based policy decisions regarding match workload limits in professional Rugby Union.",
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