Preventing Rugby Injuries

In 2019, the head of medicine for English rugby called on managers of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to consider making significant changes to the professional game to address a big jump in the severity of injuries on the pitch.

RFU injuries at an all-time high

An annual injury audit compiled by the RFU found that the average time it takes players to return to play after injury had risen for the second year in a row to 37 days.

This means that injuries are becoming more severe. And, as a result, the overall burden of match injury, which looks at both incidence and severity, is now highest since records began in 2002. It was this that led medical services director, Simon Kemp, to suggest that the game might need to implement some significant changes to reverse the trend.

Common rugby injuries

Whether you are playing at amateur or professional level, injuries among rugby players are common due to the nature of the game. Here in the clinic we see a lot of traumatic injuries caused by high speed collisions on the pitch. These include fractures affecting the arm, as well as injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments . We regularly treat sprains of the dislocations of the glenohumeral, acromioclavicular and elbow joints.

While our focus at Thames Shoulder and Elbow is on conditions affecting the upper body, other common injuries on the rugby pitch affect the head, knees and ankles. Some of these are injuries caused by overuse while others can be the result of trauma, such as falls, collisions and sudden changes of direction.

Preventing rugby injuries

Rugby is a high speed, high impact game so some injuries are inevitable, unfortunately. However, players and coaches can and should take steps to reduce the risk of injury. Some injuries have a long recovery time so prevention is definitely better than cure.

Here are some of the ways that you can prevent injuries or reduce the risk of injuries worsening or becoming acute:

  1. Make sure you are well prepared

You might want to undergo fitness screening before starting to play and follow a conditioning programme to build up your strength and fitness before the start of the season., Before each game, make sure you warm up properly and do some stretching exercises and skills practice. It’s important to cool down properly after the game as well.

  1. Know yourself and your limits

Don’t try and push yourself too hard or too fast. Be aware of your limits and play within your fitness level.

  1. Practice with sound technique

We’ve already mentioned the benefits of having a proper warm-up and cool down routine. It is important too to receive proper coaching from a reputable trainer so that you are using the correct techniques – most prominently for contact situations, such as tackling, rucking and scrummaging. Skills and techniques are regularly revised so make sure your coach keeps you updated.

  1. Wear the right protective gear

It is important to wear the correct footwear and to use a mouthguard during all games and training sessions. Any damaged gear should be replaced. Seek professional advice and also consider shoulder pads, scrum caps and bracing or ankle taping to reduce the risk of injury.

  1. Look after your overall health

To make sure you are playing at peak fitness, eat a healthy balanced diet and stay well-hydrated with water or energy drinks before, during and after a match.

If you do get injured during a game, it is important not to continue playing as you may risk a far worse injury or extended time away from the sport. We offer diagnosis and a range of different treatments for all types of upper limb injuries, including rugby injuries.

Orthopaedic Consultant & Surgeon | London

If you sustain an injury, it is important to seek professional help. An orthopaedic surgeon can provide an accurate diagnosis and recommend the most effective type of treatment, which may include surgery.

Contact us to speak to a shoulder and elbow specialist and get back to playing the game you love.

Telephone: 020 376 15987


Our Locations

Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, St John’s Wood – Directions
BMI The Syon Clinic, Brentford – Directions
BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital, Harrow – Directions
West Middlesex University Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster Foundation Trust, Isleworth – Directions