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n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Training volume and injury incidence in a professional rugby union team : original research article
Objective. To describe the incidence of injuries in a professional rugby team, and to identify any associations between injury rates and training volume.
Methods. This retrospective, descriptive study included all injuries diagnosed as grade 1 and above in a South African Super 12 rugby team. Injury incidence and injury rates were calculated and compared with training volume and hours of match play.
Results. Thirty-eight male rugby players were injured during the study period. The total number of annual injuries decreased from 50 (2002) to 38 (2004) (x2=0.84, p=0.36). The number of new injuries showed a similar trend (x2=2.81, p=0.09), while the number of recurring injuries increased over the 3-year period. There was a tendency for total in-season injury rates to decrease over the 3 years (x2=2.89, p=0.09). The pre-season injury rate increased significantly over the 3 years (x2=12.7, p< 0.01), coupled with a reduction in training exposure over the pre-season phase.
Conclusions. One has to be cognisant of the balance between performance improvement and injury risk when designing training programmes for elite rugby players. Although the reduction in training volume was associated with a slight reduction in the number of acute injuries and in-season injury rates over the three seasons, the performance of the team changed from 3rd to 7th (2002 and 2004, respectively). Further studies are required to determine the optimal training necessary to improve rugby performance while reducing injury rates.
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