Concussive Injuries in Rugby 7s: An American Experience and Current Review.

Authors: Victor Lopez Jr, Richard Ma, Meryle G. Weinstein, Robert C. Cantu, Laurel S.D. Myers-Beauregard, Nisha S. Nadkar, Christian Victoria, Answorth A. Allen.


There is a comparative lack of concussion incidence data on the new Olympic sport Rugby 7s. This study aimed to determine the incidence (number of concussions per 1000 playing hours [ph]), mean and median severity (days absence), and cause of concussive injuries.


Clinical epidemiological study.


This is a prospective epidemiology study, amateur to elite/national candidate, male (9768) and female (3876) players in USA Rugby sanctioned tournaments, compliant with the international consensus statement for studies in rugby union.


Concussions in US Rugby 7s were 7.7/1000 ph (n = 67). Women encountered concussions at 8.1/1000 ph, and men at 7.6/1000 ph (risk ratio [RR] = 1.10, P = 0.593). Elite/national-level players encountered concussions at higher rates (18.3/1000 ph) than lower levels (6.4/1000 ph; RR = 5.48, P < 0.001). Nonelite backs had higher concussive injury rates compared with forwards (7.7/1000 ph; 3.6/1000 ph; RR = 1.28, P = 0.024). Women missed 36.7 d absence from play, meanwhile men missed 27.9 d (P = 0.245). Retrospective history recall reflected previous concussive injuries occurred in 43% of the current study’s cohort; of these, 57% encountered multiple concussions within 1 yr. The incidence of repetitive concussions was not statistically different between genders (RR = 1.09, P = 0.754). Most concussions occurred from tackles (63%) and collisions (24%) (P = 0.056).


Sports-related concussions occurred with frequency among US amateur Rugby 7s players. US Elite tournament players sustained concussions at much higher rates than international male Rugby 7s counterparts. A substantial portion of US players who sustained a concussion had previous concussion injuries. Given the high rate of concussion, including repetitive concussive injuries, US Rugby 7s may benefit from concussion prevention measures similar to other contact sports such as instruction on proper tackling techniques, in-game and postgame medical assessment, and a standardized return-to-play protocol.