Rugby Ready - World Rugby's preparation resource

Injury management

Injuries are a part of any contact sport. Serious or life threatening injury in Rugby is, however, rare. The outcome of many injuries can often be improved by very simple first aid skills until emergency help arrives. For the majority of the Rugby-playing world, there is little qualified medical support available pitch side. Thus, first aid responsibility may fall to club officials, coaches, players, parents, or referees.

Often when faced with an injury, the issue is what not to do rather than what to do, i.e., ‘do no further harm’. Many things improve with a little bit of time and, commonly, taking control of a situation and preventing panic is all that is needed until the player improves or more experienced help arrives. In certain circumstances, simple measures such as protecting the head and neck, ensuring an open airway or supporting an injured limb are often all that is needed in the immediate stages of injury management.

There are, of course, some conditions where the idea of simply supporting the player and waiting will be the wrong thing to do, e.g. cardiac arrest. These, while rare, do occur and are one reason for ensuring there is trained first aid support available at games and training.

World Rugby recommends that there is an appropriate level of first aid cover at every game and training session. World Rugby provides different levels of training and more details can be found at

The general principles of looking after an injured player are:

  1. Do no further harm
  2. Take control
  3. Avoid unnecessary movement
  4. Speak to the player
  5. Call for help if needed
  6. Ensure more experienced help is on the way
  7. Recognise when you need to do more which may include calling an ambulance

Take control of the situation.

Preventing panic until the player improves or more experienced help arrives is fundamental to looking after an injured player.

All stakeholders - coaches, referees, parents, and anyone else involved in the Game - should undertake at least basic first aid training