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Saturday, January 28, 2006

 

International Rugby: Injuries mounting.

Medical statistics in England and France demonstrate that rugby union is now a more intense game. The RFU’s research shows that 72 per cent of injuries occur in what is called the high-contact areas, 51 per cent in the tackle but only 6 per cent as a result of violent play.

Source: The Times
By: Gerald Davies (Former Welsh and British Lions international)


BEFORE Toulouse played Llanelli Scarlets last weekend, the French club had to travel without five of their backs, while Gareth Thomas, the Wales full back now resident in France, was carrying a heavily strapped leg. Thomas may be added to the growing list of players who are unavailable for Wales for the RBS Six Nations Championship. It is not an unfamiliar tale. Rugby is beginning to make unreasonable demands on the body.

The transition of rugby into being an “open” sport has not been without its confusion or two off the field, but the revolutionary change has achieved much in the way of creating a more dynamic sport. This has had its price.

51% of injuries occur in the tackle

Medical statistics in England and France demonstrate that rugby union is now a more intense game. The RFU’s research shows that 72 per cent of injuries occur in what is called the high-contact areas, 51 per cent in the tackle but only 6 per cent as a result of violent play.

An analysis carried out by the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) in France and presented in L’Equipe, the sports daily, points out that, after the tenth round of the French championship, 108 of the 578 professional players in the two divisions were unavailable. What evidence there is from the archives suggests that whereas in the amateur days three or four players m ay not have been available to a team on any one weekend, now there are five or six. This may not present a substantial difference, but injuries nowadays are more serious.

34% of injuries occur during training

Training accounts for injuries, too. In England, 22 per cent of all training takes place before the season proper begins, with 34 per cent of all injuries occurring during this period, each injury accounting for 24 days of lost time. Recurrent injuries would mean 35 days of absence. There is little time during an intense season to recover and little respite as the close season, too, gets shorter.

Another LNR study showed that an incredible 36 per cent of injuries occurred during training in France. Thanks to a reduced workload, this has been cut to 28 per cent. The attritional nature of club training in France, according to Thomas, is a significant difference between what happens in Toulouse compared with what he has experienced on this side of the Channel.

Players are bigger, stronger, faster

The statistics prove what can be observed at every game. Players are bigger, stronger and faster, and with space to gather momentum there is greater force of impact when the bodies collide. Compared with pre-professional days, forwards are now 9kg (19lb) heavier, while the backs are 7kg (15lb) heavier. It is equally clear that there are many more tackles. What is less clear, but the analysis indicates, is that there is more “game time” today.

This means that the ball is in play for longer. The research in England shows that the ball is in play for close on 40 minutes during a full game, which is twice as much as it was in the 1970s, when rugby began to achieve a higher profile. A statistic supplied by Bourgoin indicated that the game time for the 2002-2003 season added up to 1,447 minutes, while this had increased the next season to 1,859.

12.5% chance of injury at club level, 29% at Test level

The farther up the ladder, the more likely it is for an injury to occur. There is a 12.5 per cent chance of injury in a club game, while at international level there is a 29 per cent chance. On average, a club will have 18 per cent of players unavailable for selection.

France intends to organise a World Medical Congress in 2007, the year it hosts the World Cup. It will be the third such tournament since 1995, when professionalism came into being. In that time, training and preparation have grown increasingly more sophisticated.

The present analysis has been conducted by those nations that have been able to afford to embrace the concept of fully professional players, with the time, the advice and the facilities at their disposal. The power and physique of one team is more or less matched with the other. In the World Cup, a discrepancy will exist between the finely tuned leading countries and those who are less prepared. This imbalance is not an encouragingly wholesome scenario.
Comments:
Morne,

Alarming stats, hey?

Shows you why the players want as long contracts as they can get whilst the commercial guys would prefer 'pay per play'!
 
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