Rugby – IRFU partner with UL on Injury Monitoring & Prevention for the Amateur Game

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13 December 2014; A general view of a rugby ball. British & Irish Cup Round 6. Leinster A v Plymouth, Donnybrook Stadium, Donnybrook, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
13 December 2014; A general view of a rugby ball. British & Irish Cup Round 6. Leinster A v Plymouth, Donnybrook Stadium, Donnybrook, Dublin. Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

THE IRFU has today announced a long-term research partnership with the University of Limerick (UL) focusing on injury monitoring and prevention in the amateur game.

The IRFU is responsible for the development of rugby in schools, colleges and clubs and in September last year (2015) invited tenders for the development and implementation of a long-term high quality injury surveillance and prevention programme across the amateur game. UL were the successful applicant after an open tender process and the necessary resources are now in place to commence work on the research project ahead of the new season.

The programme aims to enable the IRFU to:

Measure the incidence, nature and severity of injury;
Monitor trends in injury over time;
Gain insight into the possible causes of injury;
Target research or further investigation into causal factors and mechanisms;
Plan, implement and evaluate measures to prevent injury;
Prioritise the allocation of resources to injury prevention;
Assess the effectiveness of injury prevention measures;
Evaluate policy with regard to injury prevention;
Monitor and evaluate the effect on injury rates of:
– Changes in the Laws of the game;
– Coaching initiatives;
– Refereeing initiatives;
– Medical initiatives;

Dr Rod McLoughlin, Head of Medical Services at the IRFU commented, “Player welfare is the IRFU’s number one priority at all levels of the game, and I believe that research into our amateur game will ensure continued protection for all players.

There are inherent difficulties in conducting injury surveillance within community sport. It is widely recognised that injury surveillance at this level presents more challenges than at the elite end of the game, which has trained personnel to record data and the requisite professional resources to monitor injury occurrences and trends.

The IRFU invited tenders for an injury surveillance programme to collect injury data from across the domestic game in Ireland (Ulster Bank League Level down to mini rugby). This is a long-term project, which will provide continuous data for analysis and shape our approach to injury prevention in the amateur game.

UL made a very impressive presentation and we look forward to getting this project into the start-up phase over the coming weeks.”

Leading the research at the University of Limerick are Dr Tom Comyns and Dr Ian Kenny. They stated:

“This research partnership between the University of Limerick and the IRFU is an innovative and exciting partnership for UL and the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS). The project aligns with the research goals and mission of both the university and the PESS department. We have worked with local clubs, provinces and the IRFU in recent years on many aspects of performance monitoring and conditioning, and we are committed to bringing that experience to this injury surveillance research with the IRFU. Crucially this long-term injury surveillance project will help inform game policy using the very best empirical evidence available from the game’s grassroots in schools and clubs.”