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UL and IRFU release second year of findings from IRIS research project

Launching the report are Dr Rod McLoughlin, IRFU Medical Director, Caithriona Yeomans, IRIS UL PhD researcher for club rugby, Therese Leahy, IRIS UL PhD researcher for schools rugby and Dr Ian Kenny, Senior Lecturer Biomechanics UL and IRIS Co-Principal Investigator
Mon, 16 Sep 2019

The Irish Rugby Football Union and University of Limerick have released the second year of findings from the Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance (IRIS) research project, which looks at injury incidence in the Men’s and Women’s All-Ireland League and schools rugby during the 2018/19 season.

IRIS research records the incidence, type, nature and severity of both match and training injuries occurring across the amateur game in Ireland. 

By monitoring this information, injury trends may emerge which will aid in the development and implementation of future evidence-based injury prevention strategies in order to minimise injury risk and enhance player welfare.

The data was compiled across 644 matches (vs 418 last season) from 32 All-Ireland League and Women’s All-Ireland League clubs (25 male teams and seven female teams) and 95 Senior Cup schools matches from 11 schools. A total of 959 male, 195 female and 305 senior cup school boy players were registered with the IRIS project for the 2018/19 season.

Injury Frequency:

  • A male player would have to play 15 matches to sustain one injury
  • A female player would have to play 27 matches to sustain one injury
  • A Senior Cup Schools player would have to play 13 matches to sustain one injury. 

Senior Club Injury Event:

  • 59% of match & training injuries a result of the tackle
  • 48% of tackle related injuries sustained by the ball carrier
  • 52% of tackle related injuries sustained by the tackler

Training Injury Event:

  • Majority of male training injuries a result of tackling and contact drills
  • Majority of female training injuries a result of non-contact/set piece drills
  • Majority of senior schools training injuries a result of contact drills  

Male Club Match Injury Occurrence:

  • 5.3/1,000 player hours: concussion
  • 4.1/1,000 player hours: ankle ligament sprain
  • 3.9/1,000 player hours: hamstring strain  

Female Club Match Injury Occurrence:

  • 5.3/1,000 player hours: concussion
  • 3.4/1,000 player hours: ankle ligament sprain
  • 2.9/1,000 player hours: knee MCL sprians

Schools Senior Cup Match Injury Occurrence:

  • 11.4/1,000 player hours: ankle ligament sprain
  • 7.2/1,000 player hours: shoulder dislocations/ subluxations
  • 6.6/1,000 player hours: concussion

Dr. Rod McLoughlin, IRFU Medical Director, said: “This year’s report allows us to compare the 2018/19 results with those from the 2017/18 season, enabling us to begin to see some trends. This year’s data is from a significantly greater number of teams, including schools rugby, and it will enable us to guide the prevention and management of injuries. The IRFU is committed to ongoing longitudinal research to further enhance our understanding of the nature and severity of injuries in the game.”

Dr Tom Comyns, IRIS co-principal investigator at UL, commented: “We are pleased to present the second season’s injury surveillance report. The project has continued to expand and of interest this year’s reports include data from the school setting. The team would like to thank in particular the work of PhD scholars Caithriona Yeomans and Therese Leahy for the data collection, analysis and reporting.

“The team also thank the dedicated injury recorders in the clubs and schools for their involvement in the project. This long term project will help improve the health and wellbeing of amateur players at all levels in Ireland,” he added.

Dr Ian Kenny, IRIS co-principal investigator at UL, added: “The IRIS project involves research stemming from ongoing sports performance, injury prevention and psychological preparation work by University of Limerick academics across a range of sports, as well as our specific expertise in Rugby Union.

“The addition of schools surveillance this year provides crucial insight into injury within the schools senior game in Ireland. The project in the future will also report on the incidence, nature and severity of injuries in schools junior cup, and underage amateur Rugby.”