Is rugby a safe for American Youth?
by Lyle J. Micheli, MD
Commentary by a past president of the American College of Sports
I support efforts to establish rugby teams in American high
schools and colleges, and wish to alleviate any possible concerns about the  sport’s relative safety. I think I offer a unique perspective on the subject  given that: 
  • I have been closely involved in rugby as a player and supporter since the
    early 1960s when I began playing the sport as a Harvard undergraduate, and
  • I am a physician who is a past president of the American College of Sports Medicine; I am the author of over 200 scholarly journal articles on sports medicine (including the first-ever published study of rugby injuries in the
    United States); in my practice I have treated athletes of all ages from sports as varied as figure skating and football; and I am the chairman of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

A popular sport worldwide Rugby is a dynamic contact sport that is played all over the world by men and
women of all different classes,creeds, and races. It fosters friendship and camaraderie between players. To celebrate one recent Christmas, men from the American and New Zealand research stations in Antarctica played a game of rugby against each other on those southernmost frozen wastelands. Most rugby players  have played with and against people from other nations.

Rugby is played in over 100 countries and is the most popular team sport in nations such as Japan, Fiji, and Wales. This sport could not be as popular as it is among the peoples of so many different cultures if it were dangerous! In
fact, the risk of injury in rugby is relatively low compared to sports Americans embrace – such as football, ice hockey, and lacrosse – a fact borne-out by numerous studies to ascertain the risk of sports injury in different activities.
The reasons for this are quite straightforward to those of us who study sports medicine. 
IRB Player Numbers_infographic

Why rugby is a safe sport – paradoxically The main reason rugby players have a relatively low risk of injury compared
to football players is paradoxical –rugby players don’t wear protective equipment. Thus the rugby player doesn’t have the same disregard for the safety of his or her head, neck, and shoulders when tackling or trying to break through
a tackle.

The other reason is that unlike football, rugby is a game of possession, not yardage. Consequently rugby players don’t tackle by “driving through the  numbers,” as football players are taught to do with their heads when tackling a
player. In rugby, players are taught to use their arms to wrap a player’s legs and let the momentum of that player cause him to go to ground.

Furthermore, in rugby there is no blocking, and so players who don’t have the ball don’t get hit when they’re not expecting it. One of the reasons rugby has a reputation for being “dangerous” in the United States is because when the average American sees rugby being played, he or she sees a free-flowing contact sport. Because it doesn’t have the familiar stop-and-start character of football and other TV-shaped sports, to the uninitiated rugby can appear confusing and “scary.” Furthermore, while the bumps, bruises, and scrapes you see on the elbows, knees, and faces of many rugby players can appear alarming, they are of considerably less concern than the anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, finger fractures and dislocations, and chest contusions characteristic of a sport such as football in which heavy protective equipment is worn.

Injury rates I performed one of the first studies of rugby injuries in the United States, which showed that compared to football, the incidence of injury in rugby is quite low (10 percent in American club rugby compared to 52 percent in NCAA college football). My study was published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Sports Medicine. Subsequent studies have supported my results. It would be disingenuous to suggest that rugby players never get injured.

However, based on the numerous studies that have been done, the scientific conclusion we must reach is that rugby is not as injurious as certain other contact and collision sports that most of us believe deserve NCAA status, and is
a relatively safe sport in the panoply of athletic endeavors available to our  young men and women. Since the early study I did, sports medicine has grown as a specialty and there has emerged a considerable body of literature on the safety of all sports, including rugby. If you review the literature you will find no evidence to suggest that rugby should be denied a legitimate place in high schools and colleges around the world.

For all the reasons outlined  above, I have no hesitation based on my personal and professional experience to
declare that rugby is worthy of a place in American colleges and high schools.

Dr. Lyle Micheli is director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Boston
Children’s Hospital and an Associate Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
at Harvard Medical School. He is a past president of the American College of
Sports Medicine and currently serves as chairman of the Massachusetts Governor’s
Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Dr. Micheli is chairman of USA Rugby’s
Medical & Risk Management Committee.



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Hello, Lyle J. Micheli
I feel good to read this post and I like the commentary of president of the American College of Sports


Hi, Lyle J. Micheli
Yeah, The rugby is safe for Americans youth, I think that this is one of the best sports in the world.

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11/29/2015 4:29am

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01/03/2016 5:48pm

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01/07/2016 5:40pm

I'm from amstelzijdekliniek.nl, Maria. The correct technique in the game is essential to avoid serious injury. When it reaches the opponent, how access is made, the area where access is done, it is important to avoid the party from getting hurt. Early education for this sport is very important, because many perceive wrong with this game, and just play with blindly following the deaf and has caused adverse events occurred as a broken shoulder or hand injury.

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02/23/2016 8:51pm

Hi, I'm Christine from visusoogkliniek. Substitutions in Rugby can be done up to seven substitutes (depending on the rules of the tournament). The purpose of the game is to score points by carrying a ball and then cross the finish line zone and touching the ball into the opponent's court (called "try") or kicking a ball in order to get in between the goalposts opponent.

03/04/2016 1:22pm

Although aggressive but still Rugby is a very interesting game. It makes you able to control your temper and anger and use it in a constructive way by keeping yourself cool and calm.

03/15/2016 8:48am

By reading the above post and all the perspectives I can say that Rugby is good game for everyone. It is very interesting and a lot of people love to play rugby.

03/17/2016 9:02am

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05/16/2016 12:04am

The American youth are faced many problems. Now a day the parents think that whether the Rugby is safe for their children or not .In this blog the author tell about the weakness of youth now a day so that the community must be take off this problem.

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02/21/2017 11:38am

These young players are looking very nice and healthy and we can see that they are very active. I like their uniform and i am happy to see them enjoying their because it reminds me the days of my students life.


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04/18/2017 6:28am

Thankyou for your article, that’s right that rugby is the safe sport activity and will not the players injuries. Playing rugby is using safety equipment of his or her head, neck, and shoulders. Doing sport activity is good for the people, that can make the body healthy. If your body feel tired after doing sport activity, you can going to massage treatment or spa treatment, this is the good place that offering spa treatment, massage, detox, botox and many more you can going to cocoonmedicalspa.com/treatments/detox-wellness-treatments/

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