According to the latest injury audit, where the rugby football union has deployed a “smart” mouthguard program to counter the rise, the concussion rate of elite English rugby has reached its highest level since the record began.
In a 2020-21 season audit released by RFU on Tuesday in collaboration with the Premiership Rugby and Rugby Players Association, concussion was the most reported injury for 10 consecutive seasons, accounting for 28% of injuries.
The 2020-21 season has the highest incidence of concussion since the record began in 2002, with 22.2 concussion per 1,000 hours of play time. A total of 131 concussions lasted in the match, averaging 17 days of bystanders, and 17 suffered from training. “It should be noted that the 2020-21 season saw an increase in the incidence of concussion in the match, despite observing a decrease in the incidence of all injuries,” the report reads.
Audits of women’s matches showed that concussion was the most commonly reported injury, accounting for 26% of all match injuries. Again, when measured for 1,000 hours, the rate was 12.6, more than double the previous season. This increase is partly due to the more consistent reporting and identification of concussion.
A disturbing finding came on the same day that World Rugby confirmed the decision to extend the minimum standdown period for most confused elite-level players from July 1st to 12th. A male audit also showed that 48% of all match injuries were associated with tackles. 27% are tackles and 21% are tackles.
After announcing the findings, RFU revealed that a “smart” mouthguard will be available to all Premiership players, Premier 15 and England for next season. Gumshield was previously used by a few Premiership clubs, the women’s side of Bristol, and the women’s side of England, but all are offered the opportunity to be used as part of the RFU deployment.
Studies have shown that mouthguards can monitor the frequency and magnitude of head contact and head acceleration and provide head impact and contact load measurements, according to the RFU. Simon Kemp, RFU’s Director of Health Services, said: It can be reduced in both training and match settings. “
RFU also announced that it will continue to test saliva at Premiership and Premier 15. We will also evaluate advanced brain health clinics for retired players aged 30-55 who are concerned about brain health.