Tackle injury epidemiology and performance in rugby league – narrative synthesis
Background: In rugby league (RL), the ability to repeatedly engage in the tackle, whether as a ball carrier or tackler, is essential for team success and player performance. It is also the leading cause of injury, with over 90% of total injuries occurring during the tackle in professional and amateur cohorts. To effectively reduce the risk of injury and optimise performance, establishing the extent of the ‘problem’, through injury surveillance or descriptive performance studies is required.
Objective: The purpose of this narrative synthesis was to systematically search and synthesise tackle injury epidemiology and tackle performance frequency in RL. To achieve this objective, a systematic review was conducted. Methods: The search was limited to English-only articles published between January 1995 and October 2018. Based on the search criteria, a total of 53 studies were found: 32 focused on tackle injury epidemiology (nine cases studies) and 21 focused on tackle frequency.
Results: In general, over 600 tackles may occur during an RL match. Tackle injury frequencies (both overall and time-loss injuries) ranged between 47%-94% at the professional level, and between 38%-96% for the lower levels of play. A greater proportion of injuries occurring in professional RL are severe time-loss injuries when compared to lower levels of play. Most time-loss and overall injuries occur to players who are tackled, i.e., ball carriers, across all levels of play.
Conclusion: This narrative synthesis will facilitate tackle injury prevention and performance research in RL, and act as a reference document for coaches and practitioners.
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