Rugby injuries

Rugby is a tough, fast-moving sport that incurs a number of injuries from tackling and scrummaging. Many rugby injuries can be avoided with the use of protective gear but others may be unavoidable. Some of the more common rugby injuries are:

Contusions and lacerations

These represent a high percentage of rugby injuries and can be easily treated with ice and bandaging.

Muscle strains

These can result from sudden force applied to the ligaments during tackle. Poor conditioning, lack of flexibility and overuse can lead to muscle pain. An injury of this type can be treated with rest and light activity including stretching and strengthening exercises. Your physiotherapist can perform a proper assessment, then set up a program designed especially for you to help you return to rugby.


Fractures, usually of the clavicle (collar bone), are quite common among rugby players. Falling onto an outstretched arm or coming into contact with another player can lead to this type of fracture. There is extreme pain in the clavicle, swelling and a bony deformity. This injury calls for immediate medical attention. The bone may have to be immobilised in a sling or bandage. In some cases surgery may be needed. Physiotherapy is needed once the bone has healed.

Meniscal injuries

The menisci are bands of cartilage that act as shock absorbers to the knee and help distribute weight evenly between the tibia (shinbone) and the femur (thighbone). During tackles the medial meniscus is more likely to be injured as forces are impacted from the outside of the knee. Twisting of the knee may also lead to a meniscal tear. Symptoms are knee pain on the inner surface of the joint. Swelling usually occurs within a day or two of the injury and it may be difficult to bend the knee fully or bear weight. The athlete should stop play and use the RICE formula (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Consulting with a physiotherapist is necessary to set up a rehabilitation program to help you return to rugby.

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries

This type of knee injury occurs through a twisting force when the foot is firmly planted on the ground, or it can occur as a result of direct trauma during rugby tackle. There may be an audible pop at the time of the injury, followed by knee pain, swelling and tenderness on the inner side of the knee. It may be difficult to walk or straighten the knee. With this type of knee injury, the athlete should stop the activity immediately and apply the RICE protocol. Surgery is almost always needed. Physiotherapy may be started beforehand in order to strengthen the knee and reduce swelling.

Ankle sprains

Sprained ankles are another common rugby injury and are caused by the stretching and/or tearing of ligaments. This is a painful condition requiring rest from play. Other symptoms are swelling, inflammation, difficulty walking and decrease in the elasticity of the ligament. A serious ankle sprain can be more painful and take a longer time to heal than a broken bone. The RICE formula is always helpful but once the pain and swelling subside the athlete should seek physiotherapy in order to promote flexibility and strength.

As with any injury, you can always call our clinic for an assessment and treatment plan.

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Con Bonovas Physiotherapy

222 Swallow Drive
Erskine Park, NSW 2759
Phone: (02) 9834 4395

Physiotherapist helping people in Erskine Park, St. Clair, Colyton, Mt Druitt, Minchinbury, St. Marys, Penrith, Blacktown, Rooty Hill, Prospect, Seven Hills. Act now to improve your physical wellbeing.