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The Association Between Pitch Conditions and the Incidence of Injury in Rugby

Nyagetuba MJK, Saidi H, Githaiga J

School of Medicine, University of Nairobi

Correspondence to: Dr. Muma J K Nyagetuba, P.O Box 2806-00100 Nairobi, Kenya. Email: kenmuma@gmail.com



Background: Environmental conditions have been shown to influence incidence of rugby injuries. Harsh weather conditions and detrimental effect on poor Kenyan rugby pitches create a unique environment for injury exposure. We conducted a whole population prospective cohort study to determine the association of pitch conditions with injury incidence and severity. Methods: The study was conducted on 364 registered Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) players throughout the 2010 15-aside season. The injury incidence was calculated as injuries per 1000 match player hours (mph). Pitches were categorized into good and suboptimal based on quality indicators of ground characteristics. Injuries were defined and recorded according to the Rugby International Consensus Group (RICG) protocol and compared between the pitches. Results: One hundred and two injuries were recorded in 60 league games (2400 mph). Twenty nine of the 60 league games were played in the category B (suboptimal condition) pitches. The overall incidence of injuries was 42.50/1000mph. Good pitches had an injury of 29.0 injuries/1000mph (95% CI 0.81- 1.61) compared to 56.9 injuries/1000mph (95% CI 1.76- 2.90) for suboptimal pitches. Conclusion: Although the overall Kenyan injury rate is comparable to the amateur level incidence from other studies, the higher rate associated with suboptimal pitches suggests interventions that can target pitch optimization.

Keywords: Injury rate, Ground conditions, Rugby, Kenya.

Ann Afr Surg. 2015; 12(2): 73-6.


Rugby is an increasingly popular sport in Kenya. A burgeoning player profile and exposure to world class international competition and public scrutiny characterizes the sport. Therefore fitness and injury status are important elements of team performance (1). Environmental and pitch conditions have been identified as risk factors for injury in rugby (2-4). Ground hardness can result in increased incidence of injury by causing injury through physical contact with the hard ground and also by influencing running speed and resultant force of impact(3). In rugby league, degree of evenness, undulations or depressions, degree of coverage with sward of desirable grasses, and drainage system impact on injury when tackling, being tackled and diving (4). Different surfaces have