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Occup Med (Lond). 2003 Dec;53(8):512-7.

Health and safety implications of injury in professional rugby league football.

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Department of Health and Social Care, Brunel University, Osterley Campus, Isleworth, Middlesex TW7 5DU, UK.



Professional sport is characterized by high injury rates but is also covered by health and safety legislation.


To examine the incidence of injury in professional rugby league as defined by the Reporting of Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR 95).


All injuries received during playing and training to both first-team and 'academy' (<19 years old) players during two playing seasons at one professional club were recorded. The length of time a player was unable to take part in full training and playing was used as a measure of severity. Injuries were classified into minor injuries (0-3 days), over 3 day injuries or major injuries, in which the final two categories corresponded with RIDDOR 95.


Thirty-two per cent (95% confidence interval=26-39%) of all injuries received satisfied the RIDDOR 95 criteria. The overall injury rate was 8.5 per 1000 h (7.2-9.9) for the first team and 4.1 per 1000 h (3.2-5.4) for the academy team. During match play the first-team injury rate was 157.7 per 1000 h (133.5-185.1) and 67.7 (51-81.1) for the academy team. Training injury rates were lower, at 0.5 per 1000 h (0.2-1.0) and 0.3 per 1000 h (0.1-0.8), respectively.


The injury rate for professional rugby league is much higher than reported in other high-risk occupations such as mining and quarrying. The large differences in injury rates between first and academy teams have implications for young players likely to progress to first-team status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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