Positional play determines risk

A recent study has revealed team positions in rugby union can determine the likelihood of injury to players.
A recent study has revealed team positions in rugby union can determine the likelihood of injury to players. Sam Woods

RUGBY union players’ on-field position may determine their chance of dislocating their shoulder, a recent study has shown.

The study featured in the March 2011 issue of The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (JSAMS), published by Sports Medicine Australia, is the first to focus on the risk factors for shoulder dislocations in the sport.

Results showed the likelihood of players sustaining shoulder injuries requiring surgical reconstruction for instability depends on their on-field position at the time of injury.

The five-eighth position is considered a high risk position with an increased injury risk in flankers and fullback positions. The wing is considered a significantly safer position with less injury risk in the second row. A tackle was the most prevalent cause of shoulder injury, with players more likely to suffer injury to their non-dominant shoulder.

Associate Professor Desmond Bokor, from the Australian School of Advanced Medicine, said hopefully this information can assist coaches before and during the season.

“Forwards are generally recognised as having a greater incidence of injuries when compared to the backs, when looking particularly at the incidence of injury leading to shoulder reconstruction for instability the five-eighth and fullback positions also have a higher risk.”

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