This was shown in a scientific paper that looked at SA’s risk on a scale designed by a leading researcher in the field, Dr Colin Fuller – injury risk advisor to RFU and FIFA. The full paper, which shows an average rate of 2 catastrophic injuries per 100,000 players in SA, is available here: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/2/e002475.full.pdf+html .
Despite this relatively “good” news, this paper also showed that possible “higher risk” groups were the adult/senior age group and the front row players, particularly during the scrum.
The adult/senior players “higher risk group” could be explained by factors such as “weekend warriors” (players who don’t attend practice and therefore are not adequately conditioned) or the different law variations at the under 19 version of the game.
The front row during the scrum “higher risk group” is concerning as scrums occur relatively infrequently in comparison to say, the tackle, in a typical rugby match. This should be an area of concern, and these players, are therefore at a relatively higher risk during this phase. Luckily, SARU/BokSmart responded to this information immediately and modified their scrum laws in order to mitigate this risk (http://www.supersport.com/rugby/sa-rugby/news/130213/New_scrum_laws_for_schools_club_rugby). The IRB followed SARU’s move shortly afterwards by altering scrum laws internationally http://www.irb.com/newsmedia/mediazone/pressrelease/newsid=2062780.html).
Will these law changes be effective in reducing catastrophic injuries in the scrum? Watch this space…