IRIS: Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance at ACSM 2018 – Dr Ian Kenny

Figure 1 Caithriona ACSM poster 2018_IK June_
Figure 1 PhD Researcher Caithriona Yeomans

A key element of the context information for the Irish Rugby Injury Surveillance (IRIS) project that UL are coordinating was the collection of information on the status quo of current injury monitoring and player education practices in Irish amateur clubs.

The IRIS team tasked PhD researcher Caithriona Yeomans to lead the survey study across the UBL and AIL men’s and women’s clubs. Rugby Union is one of the most played and watched invasion sports worldwide, with high injury incidences widely reported in the literature (Yeomans et al, 2018). Participation rates in Rugby Union are rising with increasing popularity, particularly in Ireland with 224 amateur clubs and approximately 190,400 players currently registered. Internationally, the Irish men’s team is currently ranked in the top five in the world.

Caitriona joined several PESS researchers in being accepted to present the work at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conference 2018, May 29 – June 2 in Minneapolis, Minnesota and by all accounts received great feedback from fellow researchers and clinicians in the area.

Figure 2 ACSM poster 2018_IK Blog June
Figure 2 ACSM poster 2018

IRIS is funded by the IRFU and supported by EHS and PESS. It commenced in 2016 led by a team of multidisciplinary academics across physiology, strength & conditioning, biomechanics, psychology, physiotherapy, medicine, and statistics. Of late it has expended its base to include work by GEMS and Bernal Institute researchers. This survey completes the first work package covering several studies on amateur club Rugby injury worldwide, and IRISweb injury monitoring platform development. It overlapped with the second work package 2017/18 season injury surveillance. IRIS recruited over 20 clubs, male and female, totalling 649 players and 557 injuries. The season report will be published freely later this Summer.


Purpose: To evaluate injury monitoring and player education practices in Irish amateur Rugby Union. Methods: A survey was designed and distributed to coaches and medical staff of 58 clubs. These clubs represent the highest level of amateur Rugby Union in Ireland. The survey consisted of 27 questions, with five sections: 1) Club demographics, 2) Monitoring, 3) Education, 4) Staffing and 5) Injuries. Results: Forty-nine clubs responded to the survey. Five surveys were incomplete and excluded from analysis. The overall response rate was 75.9% representing current practices of 4,843 amateur players (mean 110±57 players per club). Injuries were monitored in 91% of clubs, with medical staff recording data in 75% of cases, using paper records (52.5%), Excel spreadsheets (37.5%) or online resources (7.5%). Training load was monitored in 36% of clubs mainly by the strength and conditioning coach (37.5%). All clubs operated return to play protocols, with 64% for all injuries and 36% for concussion only. Twenty-three% conducted pre-season concussion screening and 82% educated players on concussion. Seventy-one% educated players about injury prevention. Conclusion: Injury monitoring is crucial in invasion sports such as Rugby Union, where injury risk is substantial. While comprehensive monitoring systems are prevalent in professional sport, injury monitoring is often infrequent and inconsistent in amateur settings. In order to minimize injury risk, it is the duty of care of governing bodies to implement monitoring systems in both amateur and professional cohorts. In Ireland, 91% of clubs monitor injuries by various means. The implementation of a centralized monitoring system in Irish amateur Rugby would allow injury trends to be effectively tracked and used to guide evidence-based injury prevention strategies.

Ian Kenny RoundDr Ian Kenny is a Senior Lecturer in Biomechanics in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. Dr Kenny’s current research interests include the effects of equipment parameters on the golf swing, musculoskeletal modelling and computer simulation of movement and lower limb loading and footfall pressure patterns.   You can contact Dr Kenny via email at or view his research profile on Researchgate.

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