Match Events Associated With Injury In Schools Rugby Union

  • Matthew Hancock

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Rugby union is one of the most popular sports played within English schools, but there have been concerns about the high-impact, contact nature of the game and potential risk of injury. Despite this, very little is known about the nature of these injuries or the matches and events in which they are caused. It is widely accepted that injury incidence increases with age, yet the youth population is often treated as a whole. The first study in this thesis, chapter four, describes and compares the incidence, severity and burden of schoolboy rugby injuries within the under-13, under-15 and under-18 age groups. It highlights the high injury incidence and burden at under-18 and draws attention to the large proportion of injuries sustained within the tackle and resulting in concussion at all age groups. To add context to the first study and investigate the events causing injury, chapter five utilises match analysis to describe the events occurring within games at different age groups and to identify those which are of the greatest concern. Accidental collisions were found to pose the greatest risk to players. The tackle was found to be the most common contact event and carried the second highest risk of injury. Finally, chapter six examines the characteristics of the tackle at each age group and identifies associations between these characteristics and head contact. This chapter concludes that tacklers have head contact more often than ball carriers, that under-13 tacklers have a higher likelihood of head contact than older tacklers and that the likelihood of head contact is higher when tackling from the front, whilst static and when there is more than one tackler. This is the first body of work to investigate schoolboy rugby injuries and the events associated with them, for comparison across age groups, in an English schoolboy setting. This thesis makes numerous recommendations for law changes, identifies topics for future research and provides a foundation for which age-specific injury prevention strategies can be developed, which are based on both the injuries and events occurring within the game.
Date of Award12 Sept 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorKeith Stokes (Supervisor) & Simon Roberts (Supervisor)


  • Rugby
  • Rugby Union
  • Youth
  • Injury
  • Injury Prevention
  • Injury Epidemiology
  • Match Analysis
  • Tackle

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