Epidemiology of Injury in Elite Level Female Rugby Union Players in England

  • Niki Gabb

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Women’s Rugby Union has been through a period of transition, from the introduction of professional contracts, to the expansion of international 15-a-side and sevens competitions. Despite increased popularity and growth, little published literature has investigated the specific epidemiology and risk factors for injuries in women’s rugby union. This research was undertaken to investigate the injury risk to elite female players in both the 15-a-side and sevens games. Chapter 4 presents an epidemiological study of match injuries in elite club level women’s rugby union. The overall match injury incidence rate was 43 per 1000 player hours with a mean injury severity of 36 days. This incident rate is low compared to that of the male game. This suggests that sex specific research is preferable to accurately guide future practices and interventions. Chapter 5 investigates the epidemiology if injuries across 2 seasons, in an International women’s squad. With an injury incidence rate of 128 per 1000 player-hours the results illustrate a similar incidence rate of injuries to those observed in men’s International competitions but a significantly higher incidence rate when compared to women’s club level. The impact of injury and illness on a squad’s player availability is an important consideration both for the players’ own performance and for the squad’s performance. Chapter 6 investigates how environmental factors (e.g. short preparation period, weekly training load and the magnitude of the change in training load) contributed to the number of injuries sustained by an International squad in an intense period of training, prior to a World Cup tournament. Similarly, in Chapter 7, injuries sustained by a World Cup sevens training squad were monitored, across an intense period of training and competition. The high injury incidence rate of 187 per 1000 player-hours highlights the difference in injury risk between women and men, with environmental factors likely to have been a contributory factor. A sport still in transition, continued sex specific research is crucial to ensure the introduction of appropriate injury prevention strategies in women’s rugby Union.
Date of Award20 Jun 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorGrant Trewartha (Supervisor) & Keith Stokes (Supervisor)


  • Rugby Union
  • Epidemiology
  • Injury
  • Women

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