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Injuries mounting


Written by Maria Delport (Letgo)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 14 Apr 2014 at 10:49
Tagged with : , , , , ,

After 9 rounds of Super Rugby, the biggest and most concerning trend is injuries. I don’t know if anyone has kept an eye on the numbers, but according to a list on the Sanzarrugby.com website the number has now crept up to 89. That is an average of ten injuries per round. Of the 89 there are 15 season ending injuries, including the likes of Culum Retallick, David Pocock, Pierre Spies, Robbie Robinson, Franco van der Merwe, Patrick Lambie and Pieter-Steph du Toit. Incredibly the Stormers make up a massive 13 of these injuries, 7 of those boasting Bok caps, making those injuries all the more painful for a struggling Stormers side. But they are not entirely alone in this boat.

The Blues and Crusaders with their number of injuries stacking up to 9 are also not looking too good on the injury front and the Chiefs with 8 and Rebels and Reds 7 each, are not looking much better. There are teams that are looking quite healthy so far though, with the Highlanders and the Lions sitting on only 2 injured players, the Hurricanes only 3 and the Brumbies and the Force only 4. That leaves the Bulls, Cheetahs, Sharks and Waratahs in the middle around 5 or 6 injuries each.

The injury that has taken by far the most victims is the knee injury or knee related injury, which affects 22 of the 89 players. No other single injury amounts to even half that much. Not surprisingly, the area most vulnerable to injuries is the players’ legs, with 49 injuries in total affecting this area, of which the ankles, calves and hamstrings are most vulnerable after the knees. Injuries range from bicep tears (4), fractured hands and fingers (8), shoulders (7), back and neck (7), head and face fractures (8), foot fractures (4) and even a couple of rib fractures, in fact, at least 22 fracture injuries, which indicates the intensity of the collision, but the rest are mostly torn muscles and ligaments. It is hard to conclude if these muscle and ligament injuries are due to conditioning problems or were caused by the collision only.

One thing is certain these numbers are worrying. Whether we are losing these players because of the intensity of the game or the volume of rugby, this issue certainly needs to be addressed. I don’t want to see rugby players dress up in American Football costume, but if that is the direction we need to take to keep the players on the field, then it is something that should be considered. Are the Highlanders looking after their players better than the Stormers are? I don’t think the amount of rugby that players are playing these days is good, but I don’t think one team does it much differently from the rest, so why the big difference in numbers? Australian rugby players, probably play less than New Zealand and South African players, as they don’t have a local competition taking place after Super Rugby. There is a sort of idea floating around that New Zeeland players are better taken care of than other countries, as they manage players better and South African players are leaving to be paid more, for less rugby at lower intensities. Yet, the numbers tell us that each union is standing on basically the same number, 33, 31 and 28 – Australia, South Africa, New Zealand.

Maybe I’m overreacting and maybe this is how it has always been (if it has, by the way, why don’t rugby players wear helmets yet), but as far as I know the situation has reached a critical point and something has to change, for the sake of the players and for the sake of the game.



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