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Rugby Injuries Explained

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Article Written By Brigitte Rec

Photo Courtesy of Brigitte Rec

Though base-jumping has taken the prize as being one of the most dangerous sports in the world (over 220 deaths), Rugby is also up in the top ten list, thanks to its growing number of injuries (and sometimes deaths) that are a result from the brute contact.

As the Roanoke College club Rugby team continues to receive a growing audience at their games, many of the fans may cheer on a forceful tackle or an aggressive push. However, what many supporters aren’t aware of are the physical and mental damage some of the Roanoke College rugby players endure during a game. Broken bones, sprained ligaments, strained muscles, and concussions are some popular injuries resulting from the brutal action of the game. According to RC’s Club Sports Supervisor, Gary Adams, over the past year the rugby team has suffered from one knee injury, two ankle twists, and five concussions.

For those still learning the basics of the sport, rugby includes an 80-minute match with 40 minute halves. Officiated by one referee and two touch judges, both teams have 15 players on the pitch who attempt to outscore each other by running the ball to the opposite end of the field. Players who have possession of the ball are allowed to run with it, kick it, or pass it, however, the ball is not allowed to travel forward off of the players’ hands. Passes made by teammates must either be lateral or backwards. The neck and head are the only areas of the body where tackling is prohibited, however, the rest of the body is fair game.

Tackles, pushes, collisions, and piles cause many injuries seen in the sport and it’s reported that 1 in 4 rugby players will be injured during the season. The position and skill of the player also contributes to the types of injuries a player may receive. For example, a hooker, the forward position on the field, has been known to suffer the most injuries out of any other player. This also holds true for the flanker, another forward player on the pitch. Lack of experience can also contribute to the creation of injuries, almost 25% of the neck injuries seen in the game occur when there’s a mismatch in experience between two opposing front rows. Cauliflower ear is common amongst rugby players too where, due to repeated blows to the ear, an external deformity causes the ear to swell and disfigure, resembling a cauliflower.

Concussions are another popular injury that have been receiving much more attention over the past few years. Confusion, forgetfulness, dizziness, blurred vision, and headaches are some of the man symptoms resulting from a concussion. Usually received from a brute blow to the head, tackle, or collision, some players seen in professional rugby suffer immediate injury to the head and can sometimes be found laying on the ground unconscious after a blow. As for the Roanoke College players, Adams elaborated on the serious concussions seen over the past year, “Unfortunately, due to the seriousness of a concussion injury, a player had to drop out of school in order to seek treatment.” Adams also made it clear that players who show signs of concussions on the team, are immediately taken out of practices and games until they are cleared by a medical professional to play.

Rugby is considered a sport that only tough players can endure, and it’s for this reason that many players who may suffer symptoms of a concussion during a game, will continue to push through their head. Doing this puts the player at a serious risk of having permanent brain damage. Adams agreed with this statement by adding, “Roanoke College players are at a prime age for concussions, their brains are still developing, hitting their head will have lasting repercussions.”