World Rugby’s erroneous sport injury statistics

Yes, all sport has an element of risk, but if there is one thing that is non-negotiable, it is the provision of accurate injury statistics to the public. Unfortunately, this document called the World Rugby Sportswise Survey has been in the public domain for nearly a year. Even with a cursory viewing of the “Australia” graph, something seems incorrect:
world-rugby-sportswise-survey

(Note: As of 16 September 2016, World Rugby has claimed to retract this but a simple web search reveals it is still available various places online). To be clear, the data in the Australia graph above is incorrect. The statement that “compared with other sports and activities, rugby has a relatively low injury rate …” is also incorrect. For more see http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2016/09/15/bjsports-2016-096406.extract

When it becomes known that erroneous data are publicised about risk in sport, the publishers should clearly retract them and display the correct data. The original, more valid Australian government data is below: http://www.aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=60129549097
injury-stats
You can see that the “participation based” data shows rugby is the 4th most injurious sport, per 100,000 participants.

Very problematic claims about injuries manifest elsewhere. For example, the publishers of “Rugby Safe” in England should make some corrections to their document as well. See the very problematic quote below: http://www.englandrugby.com/rugbysafe/

rugby-safe-quote

There is actually a lot of evidence. For example, here is a screenshot of an academic article by CW Fuller which totally contradicts CW Fuller:

risk

It is therefore inappropriate for this comment to appear in a document discussing safety.

Let’s hope the public can be provided with accurate statistics by organisations with significant marketing power, so parents and children are better informed about risk in various sports. It is no longer enough to dismiss safety concerns by saying that “everything has risk”. When children are made to play particular sports at school, they and their parents should have a good understanding of the risk involved.

This problem of falsely representing injury risk has occurred recently in another collision sport – the NFL:  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/sports/football/nfl-concussions-youth-program-heads-up-football.html?_r=0

Joe Piggin

Advertisements