There is a paucity of studies reporting on women's injuries in rugby union.
The aim of this systematic review was to describe the injury epidemiology for women's rugby-15s and rugby-7s match and training environments.
Systematic searches of PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science Core Collection, Scopus, CINAHL(EBSCO) and ScienceDirect databases using keywords.
Ten articles addressing the incidence of injury in women's rugby union players were retrieved and included. The pooled incidence of injuries in women's rugby-15s was 19.6 (95% CI 17.7-21.7) per 1000 match-hours (h). Injuries in women's rugby-15s varied from 3.6 (95% CI 2.5-5.3) per 1000 playing-h (including training and games) to 37.5 (95% CI 26.5-48.5) per 1000 match-h. Women's rugby-7s had a pooled injury incidence of 62.5 (95% CI 54.7-70.4) per 1000 player-h and the injury incidence varied from 46.3 (95% CI 38.7-55.4) per 1000 match-h to 95.4 (95% CI 79.9-113.9) per 1000 match-h. The tackle was the most commonly reported injury cause with the ball carrier recording more injuries at the collegiate [5.5 (95% CI 4.5-6.8) vs. 3.5 (95% CI 2.7-4.6) per 1000 player-game-h; χ2(1) = 6.7; p = 0.0095], and Women's Rugby World Cup (WRWC) [2006: 14.5 (95% CI 8.9-23.7) vs. 10.9 (95% CI 6.2-19.2) per 1000 match-h; χ2(1) = 0.6; p = 0.4497; 2010: 11.8 (95% CI 6.9-20.4) vs. 1.8 (95% CI 0.5-7.3) per 1000 match-h; χ2(1) = 8.1; p = 0.0045] levels of participation. Concussions and sprains/strains were the most commonly reported injuries at the collegiate level of participation.
Women's rugby-7s had a higher un-pooled injury incidence than women's rugby-15s players based on rugby-specific surveys and hospitalisation data. The incidence of injury in women's rugby-15s and rugby-7s was lower than men's professional rugby-15s and rugby-7s competitions but similar to male youth rugby-15s players. Differences in reporting methodologies limited comparison of results.
Women's rugby-7s resulted in a higher injury incidence than women's rugby-15s. The head/face was the most commonly reported injury site. The tackle was the most common cause of injury in both rugby-7s and rugby-15s at all levels. Future studies are warranted on injuries in women's rugby-15s and rugby-7s.