Common Rugby Injuries and How to Deal With Them

Injuries are a fact of rugby-playing life. As the buzz of the Six Nations rings around stadiums across Europe, we’re taking a look at some of the most common injuries that occur in the sport.


The Six Nations Rugby Union tournament is in full swing and Europe’s best players are putting their bodies on the line in a bid for victory. Rugby’s a tough sport and sometimes it’s those players’ bodies that pay the price – injury lists from this year’s campaign prove it!

Today we’re having a look at some of the injuries that regularly crop up with rugby players. If you play the game yourself you’ll probably recognise most of the problems we’ve picked out, but if you’re new to rugby then hopefully this guide will help you avoid the worst consequences of any knock you take on the pitch.

While you sometimes can’t avoid an injury in sport, a bit of knowledge and some good medical insurance go a long way to helping you get back on your feet.

Head injury

Stricken Six Nations player: French flanker Wenceslas Lauret missed the opening game of France’s Six Nations after suffering a concussion.

Whether it’s getting down and driving for the line or diving in for a tackle, you often put you’re your head into dangerous positions when you’re playing rugby. Unfortunately this means head knocks are common, and although concussions can come in different severities, they should all be treated seriously.

If you take a knock you should stop playing and get some medical advice. Don’t spend time alone and make sure you avoid contact and collision for at least three weeks. When you do get back to playing, remember to take it easy and watch the head – repeated concussions might mean it’s time to hang up your boots for good.

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Hamstring strain

Stricken Six Nations player: Irish fly half Jonathon Sexton went off against England with a suspected Hamstring tear.

Hamstrings are the tough tendons that anchor the muscles down the back of your thigh to your bone – although the name hamstring can also be applied to these muscles themselves. Sudden lunging, running or jumping can cause the hamstring to tear, so it’s a pretty common rugby injury.

If you feel your hamstring go, elevate your leg and get some ice on the affected area. For the first few days you should put ice on the injury for ten minutes every couple of hours to minimize the swelling. Most hamstring injuries will heal themselves given time to rest but for serious tears, surgery might be an option.

Sprained ankle

Stricken Six Nations player: The start of England centre Manu Tuilagi’s campaign was disrupted by an ankle injury.

When rugby players sidestep, quickly change direction or get crushed in a big tackle sometimes the ankle often suffers more than anything else. There are lots of ligaments holding bones together in the ankle joint and if they take a sharp wrench or jerk then these can be damaged, causing a sprain.

The first two or three days after getting a sprained ankle are vital to a swift recovery. If you’ve gone down with a bad ankle twist there are some things that you should do, and some things that you should avoid. Do pay the PRICE (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). But avoid further HARM (Heat, Alcohol, Running, Massage).

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Damaged thumb

Stricken Six Nations player: Wales flanker Ryan Jones missed the start of the campaign with a thumb injury.

From running with the ball in hand, to tackling and rucking, the hands are at the heart of a lot of the action in rugby and that means that the thumb can often be damaged. The thumb accounts for 50 per cent of hand function so damaging it can be a really frustrating experience.

As with other injuries, treatment varies based on the severity of the damage Mild sprains might need nothing more than strapping and a rest to clear up, while severe fractures and breaks could need the application of a hard cast or even surgery. As with all of the injuries, if you keep on feeling pain in your thumb get it checked out by a professional.

Shoulder injury

Stricken Six Nations player: Wales skipper Sam Warburton suffered a shoulder injury against Ireland in the opening game of the tournament.

When rugby players go in for a big hit or drive all their forward energy is often directed straight through their shoulder. This extreme force on the shoulder area can lead to an injury.

If you hurt your shoulder in a game, get ice on it as soon as you can. As with many other injuries, the key to a speedy recovery is preventing inflammation at this early stage and ice is perfect for this. If you experience pain and want to get something from the chemists, ibuprofen is the best over the counter medicine for you as it has anti-inflammatory properties. If the injury is a little worse, a course of physiotherapy or even surgery may be required.

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Do you play rugby? Are any of these injuries familiar to you?