Training injuries in elite men's senior and academy (Super League) rugby league; an analysis of 224,000 exposure-hours

Sarah Whitehead, Cameron Owen, James Brown, Sean Scantlebury, Kevin Till, Neil Collins, Gemma Phillips, Laura Fairbank, Keith Stokes, Ben Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Report two-years of training injury data in senior and academy professional rugby league. Design: Prospective cohort study. 

Methods: Match and training time-loss injuries and exposure data were recorded from two-seasons of the European Super League competition. Eleven/12 (2021) and 12/12 (2022) senior and 8/12 (2021) and 12/12 (2022) academy teams participated. Training injuries are described in detail and overall match injuries referred to for comparison only. 

Results: 224,000 training exposure hours were recorded with 293 injuries at the senior (mean [95 % confidence interval]; 3 [2–3] per 1000 h) and 268 academy level (2 [2–3] per 1000 h), accounting for 31 % and 40 % of all injuries (i.e., matches and training). The severity of training injuries (senior: 35 [30–39], academy: 36 [30–42] days-lost) was similar to match injuries. Lower-limb injuries had the greatest injury incidence at both levels (senior: 1.85 [1.61–2.12], academy: 1.28 [1.08–1.51] per 1000 h). Head injuries at the academy level had greater severity (35 [25–45] vs. 18 [12–14] days-lost; p < 0.01) and burden (17 [16–18] vs. 4 [4–5] days-lost per 1000 h; p = 0.02) than senior level. At the senior level, the incidence of contact injuries was lower than non-contact injuries (risk ratio: 0.29 [0.09–0.88], p = 0.02). 

Conclusions: Training injuries accounted for about a third of injuries, with similar injury severity to match-play. Within training there is a higher rate of non-contact vs. contact injuries. Whilst current injury prevention interventions target matches, these data highlight the importance of collecting high quality training injury data to develop and evaluate injury prevention strategies in training.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Early online date8 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jun 2024


  • Injury
  • Match
  • Rugby
  • Rugby league
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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