Injury Profile of American Women's Rugby-7s

Authors: Richard Ma, Victor Lopez Jr, Meryle G. Weinstein, James L. Chen, Christopher M. Black, Arun T. Gupta, Justin D. Harbst, Christian Victoria, and Answorth A. Allen.


The objective of this study is to determine incidence (injuries/1000 playing hours (ph)), severity (days of absence), and cause of match injuries in US women’s Rugby-7s.


Clinical epidemiological study.


We performed a prospective epidemiological study (2010-2013) of injury of 3876 under-19 to elite/national female Rugby-7s players (nonelite = 3324, elite = 552) on 323 teams (nonelite = 277, elite = 46), applying methodology and injury definitions compliant with the international consensus statement on rugby research. Injuries occurred in USA Rugby-sanctioned tournament series: USA Rugby Local Area (2010), Territorial Union (2011-2013), National and All-Star Sevens Series, and USA Sevens Invitational (2011-2012) and Collegiate Rugby Championships (2012).


One hundred and twenty time-loss injuries were encountered (elite, n = 15; 13%) with an injury rate of 46.3 injuries/1000 ph. Injury rates in nonelite were 49.3/1000 ph, and in national level (elite) candidates, 32.6/1000 ph (RR = 1.5, P = 0.130). Mean days missed found elite level players at 74.9 d per injury, whereas nonelite at 41.8 d (P = 0.090). Acute injuries were significant (95%, RR = 1.9, P < 0.001), resulting in immediate removal from the pitch (56%, P < 0.001). The main mechanism of injury occurred when tackling players (73%, P < 0.001). The most common type of injury seen were ligament sprains (37%, 13.9/1000 ph), involving the lower extremity (45%, 20.5/1000 ph). The most common body parts injured were the knee and head/face (16%, 7.3/1000 ph).


Time-loss injuries occurred with frequency in the US women’s Rugby-7s tournaments. Overall injury rates in US women are lower than those in international elite men and women’s Rugby-7s. The head and neck area in our female players was injured at greater rates (16%) than in international male Rugby-7s (5%). Injury prevention in US women’s Rugby-7s must focus on injuries of the knee, head, and neck. Understanding risk factors will allow safe return-to-play decisions and formulate injury prevention protocols.