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Coaches urged to do more to reduce school rugby injuries

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Each year in Ireland, 8pc of young rugby players give up the sport because of injury.

Each year in Ireland, 8pc of young rugby players give up the sport because of injury.

Each year in Ireland, 8pc of young rugby players give up the sport because of injury.

A new study has revealed that Irish schools rugby teams are suffering 4.23 injuries per match as the growing confrontational nature of the sport takes its toll.

While that number is on par with international equivalents, chartered physiotherapist Grainne Shiell, who worked on the UCD project, says coaches and players could do more to bring down the tally.

The majority of those injuries were suffered in the tackle situation and a worrying number were recurring problems.

In particular, the study revealed that the number of injuries suffered in the closing stages of games could be reduced by tweaking training schedules and simply practising tackling technique, particularly when players are fatigued.

Shiell warned that young players are beginning unsupervised gym programmes that may be counter-productive to the sport they are playing, while there is a fear that injured players are returning to play too soon.

The study engaged 286 under-age players from 13 different schools competing in the Leinster Junior and Senior Cups over the course of the 2011/12 season in which all training and match injuries were recorded on a standardised form.

Conference

It will be presented to delegates at the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists annual conference, which takes place at Croke Park on Friday and Saturday.

In total, 69 players suffered 71 injuries over the recorded period, with 77pc of those injuries occurring during matches.

"The most concern I'd have is around the recurrent injuries that frequently occur rather than on-off or new traumatic injuries," Shiell explained.

"These players are coming from a young age group but they are operating in an increasingly professional environment.

"However, the conditions in which they warm-up and play are not monitored as closely even if they are similar.

"Lads are doing their own work-outs but the level may not transform to the game they're playing. They could benefit from increased monitoring of what they're doing.

"It comes back to the technical end of training, particularly in the tackle. We believe they could benefit from running tackling drills at the end of training when fatigue has set in, because many of the injuries are occurring at the end of games when players are tired."

The debate over rugby safety has been growing in recent years, with a number of English parents questioning whether the game is safe. Each year in Ireland, 8pc of young rugby players give up the sport because of injury.

Irish Independent