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HomeNews UpdateHighest levels yet for concussion rates in elite rugby – union

Highest levels yet for concussion rates in elite rugby – union

Concussion rates in elite English rugby, a concern for a number of years, have hit their highest levels since records began, according to the latest injury audit, with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) rolling out its “smart” mouth guard programme in an effort to combat the rise.

The audit of the 2020-21 season, published on 21 June by the RFU in conjunction with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Players’ Association, showed that for the 10th season running, concussion was the most reported injury, accounting for 28% of injuries.

The Guardian reports that the 2020-21 season had the highest incidence of concussion since records started in 2002 with 22.2 concussions per 1,000 hours of playing time. In total there were 131 concussions in matches, resulting in an average of 17 days on the sidelines, and 17 sustained in training.

An audit into the women’s game showed that concussion was the most commonly reported injury, making up 26% of all match injuries. Again, measured against 1,000 hours, the rate was 12.6, more than double the previous season – a rise put down in part to more consistent reporting and identification of concussion.

The alarming findings came on the same day that World Rugby confirmed its decision to extend the minimum stand-down period for most concussed elite-level players to 12 days from 1 July. The men’s audit also showed that 48% of all match injuries were linked to the tackle – 27% for being tackled, 21% for tackling.

The RFU revealed that the “smart” mouth-guards will be offered to all players in the Premiership, Premier 15s as well as England representatives next season. The gumshields have previously been used by a handful of Premiership clubs, Bristol’s women’s side as well as the England women’s side but all will be offered the chance to use them as part of the RFU’s roll-out.

Research shows that the mouth-guards can monitor the frequency and magnitude of head contacts and head accelerations and provide measures of head impact and contact load. The RFU’s medical services director, Simon Kemp, said: “The roll-out of instrumented mouth-guards to top flight men’s and women’s leagues and international teams this season will add to our understanding of the number and magnitude of head impacts and accelerations and how these can be reduced in both training and match settings.”

PRISP 2020-21

The Guardian article – Concussion rates in elite rugby hit highest levels since records began (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


England rugby CEO says lawsuit threat over concussion can drive change


Concussion sufferers 'twice as likely' to develop brain diseases — App data


World rugby faces landmark class action over neurological damage


British experts want UN Rights of the Child intervention to remove the tackle from rugby


US football: Best route to reduced concussion is in practice, not game play




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