The effect of a prevention programme on the rugby injuries of 15- and 16-year old schoolboys
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Background: The negative side of rugby participation is the danger it presents to health in the form of injuries. Most school coaches, advocates of talent development and selectors put a high priority on implementing programmes to develop bigger, stronger, faster and more skilful rugby players who can excel at their sport. These programmes however, do not place enough emphasis on the prevention of injuries. Aims: The primary aim of the study was to determine the effect of an approved injury prevention programme on the incidence (injuries per 1000 player hours) of n~gbyin juries (overall, intrinsic and extrinsic injuries) of 15- and 16 year-old schoolboys, over a two-year period. A further aim was to measure the effect of an approved injury prevention programme on the selected anthropometric, physical and motor and biomechanical and postural variables of all the groups involved in this study over a period of two years. Originating from these aims, a sub-aim of this study was to use information from this study to provide modifications - if necessary - to the current prevention programme in order for it to be effectively applied at high-school rugby level. Design: A non-equivalent experimental-control group design with multiple post-tests was used for the investigation. Subjects: The subjects were 120 schoolboy rugby players. The subjects came from two secondary schools in the North West province of South Africa. Both schools were schools wit11 a tradition of excellence in rugby. Players who participated in the experimental injury prevention programme were the year 2004, 15- and 16-year old elite A teams. The B teams acted as controls. Method: Players were tested over a two-year period. During each of the two years there were three testing occasions where all players were tested: pre-season, during the mid-season break and at the end of the season. The results of these tests were used to monitor changes in anthropometric, physical and motor and biomechanical and postural variables in various stages of the training programme. At the end of every evaluation, deficits were identified in the performance of all players in the experimental group and the prevention programmes were planned accordingly. Players in the experimental group received exercises to address the specific deficits identified. Rugby injuries were screened and injury data collected through the use of weekly sports. medical clinics. Results: Differences and changes in extrinsic injury incidences in this study could not be attributed to the effect of the prevention programme, and as a result injury trends related to overall injury incidences were inconsistent when the experimental groups were compared to the matching control groups. However, the prevention programme did have a positive effect on the intrinsic injury incidence of both experimental groups during the study period. The following moderate or highly practically significant anthropometric changes occurred when inter-group comparisons for the two year period were considered: triceps skinfold (d=0.8 among 16-year olds), subscapular skinfold (d=0.5 among 16-year olds, midaxillary skinfold (d=1.3 among 15-year olds), calf skinfold (d=1.3 among 16-year olds), humerus breadth (d=1.4 among 15-year olds), femur breadth (d=0.5 among 15-year olds), fat percentage (d=0.5 among 16-year olds) and mesomorphy (d=1.3 among 15-year olds). However, these anthropometric changes may be due to other factors, such as the natural growth phase of boys, rather than the effect of the prevention programme. During the inter-group comparisons of physical and motor components, moderately or highly practically significant improvements were recorded in the vertical jump (d=0.8 for 15-year olds and d=1.5 for 16year olds), bleep (d=0.7 for 16-year olds), pull-ups (d=0.6 for 15-year olds) and push-up tests (d=1.5 for 15-year olds and d=1.1 for 16 year-olds) of the experimental groups considering the total two year period. From the results it was clear that in practice, the prevention programme significantly improved only four of the 11 physical and motor components over the two-year period and that these improvements often occurred in only one of the age groups involved. The inter-group comparison of biomechanical and postural variables revealed numerous moderately and highly practically significant improvements in both age groups. over the total two-year period. All in all the prevention p r o v e provided the experimental groups with a more balanced (closer to ideal) dynamic mobility, core stability and postural symmetry. Conclusion: It could be concluded that the present prevention programme did not have a practically significant effect on the incidence of overall rugby injuries and extrinsic rugby injuries of 15- and 16-year old schoolboys over a two-year period. However, in practice, the prevention programme did have a significantly positive effect on the incidence of intrinsic rugby injuries of 15- and 16-year old schoolboys over a period of two years. It could be concluded that the prevention programme did not have a practically significant effect on the anthropometric components of 15- and 16-year old schoolboys over a two-year period. Seeing that the prevention programme had a moderately or highly practically significantly effect on only four of 11 physical-and-motor components over the two-year period, and that these improvements often occurred in only one of the age groups involved, it could be concluded that the prevention programme did not significantly affect the physical and motor variables of 15- and 16-year old schoolboys over a two-year period. Finally the conclusion could be drawn that in practice the prevention programme significantly improved the biomechanical and postural variables over a period of two years. This improvement in biomechanical and postural status may be responsible for the decrease in intrinsic injury incidence. Information from this study was used to provide modifications to the tested prevention programme in order for it to be effectively applied at high school rugby level.
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