Dr Tom Comyns (PESS), Dr Rod McLoughlin (IRFU), Caithriona Yeomans (PhD Scholar, PESS), Mairead Liston (IRFU), Dr Ian Kenny (PESS)
Thursday, October 12, 2017

The long term research partnership between the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the University of Limerick (UL) focusing on injury monitoring and prevention in the amateur game, known as the IRIS Project has commenced recording data.

Since September 2016, the IRIS (Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance) project led by Dr Tom Comyns and Dr Ian Kenny has been reviewing the reported incidence of injury internationally across the amateur game. 

The UL team carried out research on existing injury monitoring systems and player education in the amateur game in Ireland and a number of clubs underwent health and mobility screening during their pre-season period.  Also during this preparatory period an online injury recording system was developed and put in place to support the research.

There are now 17 teams from the men’s Ulster Bank League and 5 teams from the women’s All Ireland League involved in the IRIS Project with 480 players registered with the study.  All injuries occurring to the Senior 1st XV in these clubs will be recorded for the next two seasons up until the end of the 2018/19 season.

Mairead Liston, IRFU Medical Department Coordinator, “The IRFU’s number one priority is player welfare across all levels of the game and this research project with UL will provide a valuable insight into injury trends within the amateur game. 

There are inherent difficulties in conducting injury surveillance within community sport and it is widely recognised that injury surveillance at this level presents more challenges than at the elite end of the game.”

Research co-lead at the University of Limerick, Dr Tom Comyns, said: “This research partnership between the University of Limerick and the IRFU is an exciting, innovative and proactive initiative that will provide empirical evidence related to the incidence of injury in the amateur game. The team in UL have built the research programme on an analysis of international best practice regarding injury surveillance and prevention. Our researchers have a proven track record in the area of injury monitoring and prevention and are using this experience to develop and implement a long-term robust injury surveillance system for use in the amateur game. The research outcomes will impact injury prevention strategies and thus enhance the welfare of Irish amateur players”. 

In September 2015 the IRFU invited tenders for the development and implementation of a long-term high quality injury surveillance and prevention programme across the amateur game. The University of Limerick were the successful applicant after an open tender process.

The UL IRIS research team are: Dr Tom Comyns (Strength & Conditioning), Dr Ian Kenny (biomechanics), Ms Caithriona Yeomans (PhD researcher), Dr Róisín Cahalan (physiotherapy), Dr Giles Warrington (physiology), Professor Drew Harrison (biomechanics), Dr Mark Lyons (Strength & Conditioning), Dr Mark Campbell (sport psychology), Dr Kevin Hayes (statistics).

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;