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Injury rates at Rugby World Cup not increasing, says governing body

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Some commentators have expressed concern over the number of injuries suffered by players on all sides in this year´s Rugby World Cup, but the organisers say that injury rates are similar to past tournaments.

World Rugby said in a statement last week: “All the indicators are that injury rates at Rugby World Cup 2015 are not out of step with those at Rugby World Cup 2011.”

It added that “major advances” in player care and “the most progressive programme of welfare standards” ever in place at a rugby event were helping to raise standards of care on and off the field, Reuters reported.

By the end of the pool stage this year 22 players had been ruled out of the tournament due to injury, compared with 19 at the same stage in 2011 and 37 in 2007.

A World Rugby spokesperson quoted by the BBC said that injury rates at the game´s elite level have not increased since 2002.

“It is too early to make comparisons [between 2015 and other World Cups] as it is usual to see fluctuations during an event, but injuries do not appear to be out of step with the norm,” the spokesperson said.

Experts have pointed to the increasing size of the players as one reason for high injury rates. With players becoming bigger and faster, the potential dangers of the sport have increased.

But player care has also advanced. World Rugby said that its care policies at this year´s tournament include mandatory cardiac screening, independent medics for head injuries, use of video technology to help identify and assess head injuries, and independent concussion experts to consult on return to play.

The governing body has also launched a concussion education app to help players, coaches, doctors and match officials at all levels of the sport educate themselves about concussion.

Currently available in three languages, the ‘Recognise And Remove´ app provides medically approved information on everything from recognising the symptoms of concussion to return to play.

As for this year´s World Cup, the full injury count will only be clear after the final on 31 October, and World Rugby will conduct a full review once the tournament is over. But the organisation stressed: “Player welfare is World Rugby´s number one priority.”