The Mountain Times

°F Wed, April 23, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Common injuries in the football family tree

Photos courtesy of Patric Hendrick

Rugby has a reputation. A game full of insane behemoths romping up and down a field without pads, beating the snot out of each other for the fun of it - oh, there's a ball in there so that there's some scoring just to legitimize it. It is, in a word: dangerous.
But perhaps the reputation that it has gained for being overly rough is based up on people judging it completely out of context, after all many sports are dangerous.

To get a better picture of just how dangerous rugby is it helps to be able to compare it to others in it's "family" of sports - It's "brothers" are perhaps soccer and football.

Common Soccer Injuries
Developed from the same game as rugby during the industrial revolution, the governing body of soccer has developed rules that have change the way the game is played today. Players run about using only their feet to move the ball towards the goals, as opposed to Rugby and Football where arms are the main conveyance of the ball. As such, most injuries relate to the lower half of the body, with hamstring strains, sprained ankles, knee cartilage tears, hernias, concussions and ACL tears topping lists of common injuries.

6--rob 2106

Common Rugby Injuries
Unlike soccer, rugby governing boards didn't limit players to only using the feet, a certain size (not directly but vicariously through the nature of the game), nor did they prohibit tackling. Thus, the common injuries for rugby are predominated by injuries in the upper body: hamstring strain, head contusions and concussions, joint sprain, fractures and dislocation of appendages.

Common Football Injuries
Born out of rugby due to President Roosevelt's concerns over player safety, football is now one of the most popular sports in the world, with the NFL's Super Bowl coming in at #3 for highest viewership of popular sporting events.

With the addition of pads and the eventual weeding out of the backward pass utilized in rugby, football became a faster-pasted, heavier hitting game than either soccer or rugby. Common injuries from football, despite pads, range across the lower and upper body; knee injuries, shoulder injuries, ankle sprains, concussions, back injuries, fractures, as well as hamstring and quadricep injuries.

Opinions in safety
In talking to Rugby players that have played either soccer or football, one will get much different opinions about safety. The ex-soccer player might say that rugby is much more dangerous, as so much direct contact is foreign to that athlete. The footballs players might conversely say that ruby is safer - and some may even site the lack of pads for making it such. (When going into contact without pads, the main thing to remember is technique, not unadulterated, brute force as in football.)

Ultimately, it's all about having fun and weighing the risks and preparing yourself. Good warm-ups, cool-downs and hydration - not to mention keeping your awareness go a long way.

Maxx Steinmetz has been playing rugby since 2005 and is currently the captain for the Rutland Roosters, a men's league rugby team representing the Rutland area. To get in touch with the club, email

Tagged: Rugby