A 2-year prospective study of injury epidemiology in elite Australian rugby sevens: Exploration of incidence rates, severity, injury type, and subsequent injury in men and women Academic Article uri icon


  • Background: Injuries are common in rugby sevens, but studies to date have been limited to short, noncontinuous periods and reporting of match injuries only. Purpose: To report the injury incidence rate (IIR), severity, and burden of injuries sustained by men and women in the Australian rugby sevens program and to provide the first longitudinal investigation of subsequent injury occurrence in rugby sevens looking beyond tournament injuries only. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study. Methods: Ninety international rugby sevens players (55 men and 35 women) were prospectively followed over 2 consecutive seasons (2015-2016 and 2016-2017). All medical attention injuries were reported irrespective of time loss. Individual exposure in terms of minutes, distance, and high-speed distance was captured for each player for matches and on-field training, with the use of global positioning system devices. The IIR and injury burden (IIR × days lost to injury) were calculated per 1000 player-hours, and descriptive analyses were performed. Results: Seventy-three players (81.1%) sustained 365 injuries at an IIR of 43.2 per 1000 player-hours (95% CI, 38.8-47.8). As compared with male players, female players experienced a lower but nonsignificant IIR (incidence rate ratio, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.73-1.12). Female players also sustained a higher proportion of injuries to the trunk region (relative risk, 1.75; 95% CI, 1.28-2.40) but a lower number to the head/neck region (relative risk, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.37-0.93; P = .011). The majority (80.7%) of subsequent injuries were of a different site and nature than previous injuries. A trend toward a reduced number of days, participation time, distance, and high-speed distance completed before the next injury was observed after successive injury occurrence. Conclusion: A trend for a lower IIR was observed for female players compared with male players, with variation of injury profiles observed between sexes. With a surveillance period of 2 years, subsequent injuries account for the majority of injuries sustained in rugby sevens, and they are typically different from previous types of sustained injuries. After each successive injury, the risk profile for future injury occurrence appears to be altered, which warrants further investigation to inform injury prevention strategies in rugby sevens.

publication date

  • 2019