THE risk of injury for amateur soccer and rugby players is substantial – and is particularly high during competitive matches, according to a new study.
It showed that rugby poses a greater risk of injury than soccer and there is a need for prevention strategies targeted at the parts of the body most likely to suffer in both sports.
In soccer, the risk of injury among amateurs is higher than the rate found among professionals, the newly published findings show.
The risk of injury in amateur rugby appears to be similar to the professional game, except for severe injuries – which are less likely for amateurs.
The three-month study was carried out by a team of researchers at the Anatomy Department in Trinity College Dublin and the Department of Human Sciences in Twickenham in the UK.
They surveyed the players during training and matches, and recorded 66 injuries. Two of the rugby players were forced to drop out for the rest of the the season.
Thigh and ankle injuries were the most common in soccer, while damage to the shoulder and thigh were more common in rugby players.
It found "severe" injury with more than 21 days lost was far more common among professional rugby players.
Stringent return-to-play rules mean that professional players are more frequently absent for longer periods of time than their amateur counterparts.
Sports medicine aims to prevent injuries from occurring and to do this it must first establish the injury incidence and severity, said the study, published by the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists in the journal 'Physiotherapy Practice & Research'.
"In amateur soccer and rugby in Ireland, based on this study, these strategies should target ankle ligament injuries in soccer, knee and shoulder ligament injuries in rugby, and hamstring muscle injuries in both sports," the authors wrote.
The research pointed to the continuing popularity of amateur field sports in Ireland and estimated that a relatively large proportion of the population play.
This includes 5.6pc for soccer, 2.6pc for Gaelic games and 0.9pc for rugby. Despite the interest, there are few studies available on the extent of game injuries.
"All sports have an element of risk and to ensure benefits of activity outweigh these risks, injuries must be prevented," the researchers warned.