New rugby injury-monitoring partnership between IRFU and UL

11 Aug 2016

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) has partnered up with the University of Limerick (UL) to monitor injuries sustained in the amateur game and devise plans to reduce risk in the future.

Sporting injuries are a hazard of various games, though some sports, and some injuries, are more dangerous than others.

The IRFU has announced that it has partnered up with UL to research injuries sustained by players at the amateur level of rugby.

Rugby injury

Empirical evidence

“This long-term injury-surveillance project will help inform game policy using the very best empirical evidence available from the game’s grassroots in schools and clubs,” said Dr Tom Comyns and Dr Ian Kenny, the duo leading the UL research.

“We have worked with local clubs, provinces and the IRFU in recent years on many aspects of performance monitoring and conditioning, and we are committed to bringing that experience to this injury-surveillance research with the IRFU.”

Among the tasks to be undertaken by UL, measuring the number of injuries, their nature and severity, will be key. This will provide the IRFU with data portraying injuries over larger timescales, revealing trends and highlighting areas that need greater attention.

“There are inherent difficulties in conducting injury surveillance within community sport,” said Dr Rod McLoughlin, IRFU’s head of medical services.

“It is widely recognised that injury surveillance at this level presents more challenges than at the elite end of the game, which has trained personnel to record data and the requisite professional resources to monitor injury occurrences and trends.”

“UL made a very impressive presentation and we look forward to getting this project into the start-up phase over the coming weeks.”

Deep impact

On the face of it, this seems more likely to reveal trends in more physical, prominent and immediate injuries like breaks, fractures and tears, rather than neurological injuries that take time to emerge.

While swimmers are more prone to muscle injuries due to their physical exertion amid an absence of impact, boxers and rugby players face the risk of bone breaks and head injuries due to their physical confrontations.

It has provoked significant debate throughout the entire sporting world, with concussion – on the back of a blockbuster movie by the same name – gaining most attention, often acting as an umbrella term for general head injuries.

Joint injuries, developed from years of heavy impact and stress, have proved troubling, as sports battle to attract new waves of children – and, by extension, the approval of their parents.

Rugby is prominent in this area, attempting to encourage more youths to get involved in a game that, on the face of it, is one of the more contact-heavy team sports.

So partnerships like this make sense.

Main rugby image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic