The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and University of Limerick (UL) have released the first findings from the Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance (IRIS) research project

Dr Tom Comyns, Dr Roisin Cahalan, Ms Mairead Liston, Dr Rod McLoughlin, Ms Caithriona Yeomans, Dr Ian Kenny

The IRIS project commenced in September 2016 and includes HRI researchers from the Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS) department, Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS), School of Allied Health and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in UL. This is the first long-term Rugby Union specific injury surveillance research project within amateur Rugby Union in Ireland. The research records the incidence, type, nature and severity of both match and training injuries occurring across the amateur game in Ireland. By monitoring this information, injury trends may emerge which will aid in the development and implementation of future evidence-based injury prevention strategies in order to minimise injury risk and enhance player welfare.
In September 2018 the IRIS group released the first season’s Rugby report (season 2017/18). The data were compiled across 418 matches from 15 male and four female All Ireland League (AIL) teams.  A total of 479 male players and 129 female players were registered with the IRIS project and data was compiled  from dedicated data injury recorders, coaches, doctors, physiotherapists, managers and ancillary staff within clubs. The key findings were as follows:
Injury Frequency
-    A male player would have to play 15 matches to sustain 1 injury
-    A female player would have to play 16 matches to sustain 1 injury
Injury Event
-    54% of match & training injuries a result of the tackle
-    54% of tackle related injuries sustained by the ball carrier
-    46% of tackle related injuries sustained by the tackler
Training Injury Event
-    Majority of male training injuries a result of tackling and contact drills
-    Majority of female training injuries a result of non-contact/set-piece drills
Male Match Injury Occurrence
-    6.1/1,000 player hours:      Concussion
-    5.7/1,000 player hours:      Ankle ligament sprain
-    4.1/1,000 player hours:      Hamstring strain
Female Match Injury Occurrence
-    5.1/1,000 player hours:      Ankle ligament sprain
-    5.1/1,000 player hours:      Concussion
-    3.2/1,000 player hours:      Rotator cuff strain

IRFU medical director, Dr Rod McLoughlin, commented, “Player welfare is of paramount importance to the IRFU and understanding the nature and type of injury that occurs in rugby is vital in the planning and provision of medical care to players. The IRIS research data will be invaluable in informing how the IRFU address player welfare concerns in the amateur game. As the scope of the research widens to include additional AIL clubs as well as schools and youth rugby the IRFU will have a robust evidence based insight into injuries within the amateur game”.
According to Dr Tom Comyns, Lecturer in the department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS) and IRIS co-principal investigator at UL, “Comprehensive injury surveillance systems in amateur Rugby Union are rare and this innovative project to date has involved the research, design and implementation of an online injury recording platform. Collection has now been completed of a full season’s data and this 2017/18 season report documents our collaborative work with the IRFU, and with 19 male and female All-Ireland League Clubs”.
Dr Ian Kenny, Senior Lecturer in the department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences (PESS) and IRIS co-principal investigator University of Limerick, commented, “The Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance (IRIS) project involves research stemming from ongoing sports performance, injury prevention and psychological preparation work by University of Limerick academics across a range of sports, as well as our specific expertise in Rugby Union. Annual injury surveillance reports will be published over the coming years and the project in the future will also report on the incidence, nature and severity of injuries in schools, and underage amateur Rugby.”

IRIS Research Team: Dr Tom Comyns (IRIS Co-Principal Investigator, PESS), Dr Ian Kenny (IRIS Co-Principal Investigator, PESS), Ms Caitriona Yeomans (IRIS UL PhD Researcher), Dr Roisin Cahalan (IRIS UL doctoral supervisor, Allied Health), Dr Giles Warrington (PESS), Prof Liam Glynn (GEMS), Prof Drew Harrison (PESS), Dr Mark Lyons (PESS), Dr Mark Campbell (PESS), Dr Kevin Hayes (Mathematics & Statistics)

Journal Publications
Yeomans, C., Kenny, I.C., Cahalan, R., Warrington, G.D., Harrison, A.J., Hayes, K., Lyons, M., Campbell, M.J & Comyns, T.M. (2018) ‘The Incidence of Injury in Amateur Male Rugby union: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis’. Sports Medicine, 48(4), 837-848. IF 7.074, Q1

Yeomans, C., Comyns, T. M., Cahalan, R., Warrington, G. D., Harrison, A. J., Hayes, K., Lyons, M., Campbell, M.J & Kenny, I. C. (2018). Current injury monitoring and player education practices in Irish amateur rugby union. Physical Therapy in Sport, 33, 27-32. IF 1.919, Q2

Yeomans, C., Kenny, I.C., Cahalan, R., Warrington, G.D., Harrison, A.J., Hayes, K., Lyons, M., Campbell, M.J., Glynn L.G.& Comyns, T.M. (xxxx) ‘The design, development, implementation and evaluation of IRISweb; A rugbyspecific web-based injury surveillance system’. Sports Physical Therapy in Sport. [under review]


Conference Communications:
Yeomans, C., Kenny, I.C., Cahalan, R., Warrington, G.D., Harrison, A.J., Hayes, K., Lyons, M., Campbell, M.J., Comyns, T.M. ‘The Incidence of Injury in Amateur Rugby union: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis’. All-Ireland Postgraduate Conference. Carlow I.T., April 2017
Yeomans, C., Cahalan, R., Kenny, I.C., Warrington, G.D., Harrison, A.J., Hayes, K., Lyons, M., Campbell, M.J. and Comyns, T.M. ‘The Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance (IRIS) Project: a meta-analysis of global injury incidence and a survey of Irish injury surveillance and prevention strategies’. Health Research Symposium. University Hospital Limerick, November 2017

Yeomans, C., Comyns, T.M., Cahalan, R., Warrington, G.D., Harrison, A.J., Hayes, K., Lyons, M., Campbell, M.J., Kenny, I.C. ‘Injury Surveillance in Irish Rugby, ‘The Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance (IRIS) Project’. Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine FSEM [RCPI & RCSI] Spring Study Day University of Limerick, March 2018

Yeomans, C., Comyns, T.M., Cahalan, R., Warrington, G.D., Harrison, A.J., Hayes, K., Lyons, M., Campbell, M.J., Kenny, I.C. ‘Injury Monitoring and Player Education: a Survey of Current Practices in Irish Amateur Rugby Union’. American College of Sports Medicine ACSM Annual Congress. Minneapolis U.S.A, May 2018

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