Letgo

Injuries mounting


Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 14 Apr 2014 at 10:49
Tagged with : , , , , ,

After 9 rounds of Super Rugby, the biggest and most concerning trend is injuries. I don’t know if anyone has kept an eye on the numbers, but according to a list on the Sanzarrugby.com website the number has now crept up to 89. That is an average of ten injuries per round. Of the 89 there are 15 season ending injuries, including the likes of Culum Retallick, David Pocock, Pierre Spies, Robbie Robinson, Franco van der Merwe, Patrick Lambie and Pieter-Steph du Toit. Incredibly the Stormers make up a massive 13 of these injuries, 7 of those boasting Bok caps, making those injuries all the more painful for a struggling Stormers side. But they are not entirely alone in this boat.

The Blues and Crusaders with their number of injuries stacking up to 9 are also not looking too good on the injury front and the Chiefs with 8 and Rebels and Reds 7 each, are not looking much better. There are teams that are looking quite healthy so far though, with the Highlanders and the Lions sitting on only 2 injured players, the Hurricanes only 3 and the Brumbies and the Force only 4. That leaves the Bulls, Cheetahs, Sharks and Waratahs in the middle around 5 or 6 injuries each.

The injury that has taken by far the most victims is the knee injury or knee related injury, which affects 22 of the 89 players. No other single injury amounts to even half that much. Not surprisingly, the area most vulnerable to injuries is the players’ legs, with 49 injuries in total affecting this area, of which the ankles, calves and hamstrings are most vulnerable after the knees. Injuries range from bicep tears (4), fractured hands and fingers (8), shoulders (7), back and neck (7), head and face fractures (8), foot fractures (4) and even a couple of rib fractures, in fact, at least 22 fracture injuries, which indicates the intensity of the collision, but the rest are mostly torn muscles and ligaments. It is hard to conclude if these muscle and ligament injuries are due to conditioning problems or were caused by the collision only.

One thing is certain these numbers are worrying. Whether we are losing these players because of the intensity of the game or the volume of rugby, this issue certainly needs to be addressed. I don’t want to see rugby players dress up in American Football costume, but if that is the direction we need to take to keep the players on the field, then it is something that should be considered. Are the Highlanders looking after their players better than the Stormers are? I don’t think the amount of rugby that players are playing these days is good, but I don’t think one team does it much differently from the rest, so why the big difference in numbers? Australian rugby players, probably play less than New Zealand and South African players, as they don’t have a local competition taking place after Super Rugby. There is a sort of idea floating around that New Zeeland players are better taken care of than other countries, as they manage players better and South African players are leaving to be paid more, for less rugby at lower intensities. Yet, the numbers tell us that each union is standing on basically the same number, 33, 31 and 28 – Australia, South Africa, New Zealand.

Maybe I’m overreacting and maybe this is how it has always been (if it has, by the way, why don’t rugby players wear helmets yet), but as far as I know the situation has reached a critical point and something has to change, for the sake of the players and for the sake of the game.



21 Comments

  • They don’t wear helmets cause they’ll use it to hurt their opponents ;-P Must say the number of leg related injuries must be a concern. I do think there’s to much top rugby and that the number of games is starting to add up. Super rugby needs to go back to 10 teams and maybe a second division of 8-10 teams.

  • Comment 1, posted at 14.04.14 11:04:15 by JD Reply
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  • With Knee injuries taking precedence and other injuries following on – helmets etc wont be of much use. The knee injury is baffling. Conditioning? too much playing with little or no rotation? The latter sounds more credible. Even if squads were bigger, the coaches may still not rotate, fearing weakened teams and losses. Maybe a rule on how many games a player can play in a row before being rotated/benched etc.

  • Comment 2, posted at 14.04.14 11:07:03 by Caratacus Reply

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  • @JD (Comment 1) : The NFL players wear helmets and there are real issues with long term brain damage to players.

    This super 15 format is rubbish – from both a fan excitement and player welfare angle.

  • Comment 3, posted at 14.04.14 11:07:17 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 3) : I do understand your concern about head injuries but playing with helmets will be difficult to implement because it may cause other injuries.

  • Comment 4, posted at 14.04.14 11:11:19 by JD Reply
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  • @Caratacus (Comment 2) : limiting play time should work but seems that a lot of the injuries is caused by hyperextensions.

  • Comment 5, posted at 14.04.14 11:13:20 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 4) : That is what I am saying – helmets would be of no benefit in rugby. To be fair the types of tackles the NFL players get away with, would get you banned for life in rugby. In fact the added protection may make you think you are invincible.

  • Comment 6, posted at 14.04.14 11:14:44 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 5) : ok scuse the ignorance – what are hyper extensions?

  • Comment 7, posted at 14.04.14 11:20:46 by Caratacus Reply

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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 6) : There are more concussion injuries in the NFL than in worldwide rugby…

  • Comment 8, posted at 14.04.14 11:24:15 by lostfish Reply
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  • As much as I agree that the amount of rugby played is stupid, a lot of the injuries have happened in the beginning of the season. I honestly think it’s a training and conditioning problem. The exercises should be rugby focused.

  • Comment 9, posted at 14.04.14 11:24:35 by shaniboi Reply

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  • @Caratacus (Comment 7) : when something (like a knee) is bent further (in a wrong direction) than the ligaments and muscles should alow it to.

  • Comment 10, posted at 14.04.14 11:31:43 by JD Reply
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  • @JD (Comment 10) : commonly suffered by backs running cross field.

  • Comment 11, posted at 14.04.14 11:35:05 by lostfish Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 6) : that’s the problem with wearing protective clothing, it makes people think that they can now do anything without getting injured.

  • Comment 12, posted at 14.04.14 11:36:25 by JD Reply
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  • @lostfish (Comment 11) : or trying to side step or in tackles when the studs get caught in the grass.

  • Comment 13, posted at 14.04.14 11:38:27 by JD Reply
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  • Injuries are worrying indeed but it’s tricky to identify the root cause. Even a player’s mindset affects the number of injuries they pick up.

  • Comment 14, posted at 14.04.14 11:40:52 by vanmartin Reply
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  • The helmet thing is getting too much attention, I was trying to suggest that maybe some sort of protective gear is implemented to prevent certain injuries.

    The thing is like you mentioned, I don’t know what players can wear to prevent muscle and ligament injuries.

  • Comment 15, posted at 14.04.14 12:42:28 by Letgo Reply
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  • thanks for the article and interesting stats indeed. I would imagine it is a combination of how much rugby is being played (especially with this silly current super rugby set-up) as well as conditioning.

    It will be interesting to see if conditioning coaches and their skills in being able to best prepare the players to minimise injuries will become more and more of a factor in the ultimate success of teams going forward

  • Comment 16, posted at 14.04.14 13:21:01 by stevovo Reply
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  • 33, 31, and 28 don’t add up to 89. I wouldn’t otherwise point it out but if one of them is wrong it may change the outlook on the stats.

  • Comment 17, posted at 14.04.14 18:11:50 by David12246 Reply

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  • @lostfish (Comment 8) : yip because it prevent minor injuries but just like with a scrum cap it actually worsens more serious injuries.

  • Comment 18, posted at 15.04.14 09:52:48 by BR Reply
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  • @Letgo (Comment 15) : the problem with many protective gear are it is great for minor injuries but with more serious injuries it just worsens it.the only thing that doesn’t do that is probably your mouth guard

  • Comment 19, posted at 15.04.14 09:56:34 by BR Reply
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  • I can see why the refs need to clamp down on players like Mad Pottie flying into rucks. If you are stuck at the bottom of a tackle in an awkward position, all you need is the impact of one of these human Scud missiles to break your neck, tear ligaments in your knee.

  • Comment 20, posted at 15.04.14 10:01:09 by Bokhoring Reply
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  • @Bokhoring (Comment 20) : yes players flying into rucks is a huge concern, playing of players in the air (especially at line outs) is another area that must be policed quite vigorously as it can cause neck and back injuries.

  • Comment 21, posted at 15.04.14 22:59:05 by JD Reply
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