AMMUNITION at last for club rugby players forced to undergo the weekly agony of interval training, the run-rest, run-rest routine that some coaches think best mimics the game itself. A study by Otago University in New Zealand has found that players who do regular interval training are twice as likely to be injured as those who do not train at all.
Before the nation's overweight forwards get too excited, though, they should take on board some of the other findings of the study, which surveyed 356 players involved in club rugby. Perhaps the nastiest is that 90 per cent of the players concerned were injured at some point during the season. The best protection from injury will also be unpopular with lazy players: undertaking endurance training like running, swimming and aerobics to improve fitness decreases the risk of injury by 25 per cent.
And there are some tips for which bits of the game to avoid if you want to stay unharmed next season: most injuries (35.9 per cent) occurred in tackles. Just over 15 per cent of injuries occurred during rucks and 11.3 per cent in mauls. And the grisly details: most of the injuries (74 per cent) were soft tissue problems: things like sprains, strains and lacerations. The ankle (14 per cent of injuries) is the most vulnerable area of the body; shoulder and collarbone (12 per cent) and face, outer ear and eye injuries (11 per cent) were next.
The best tip for avoiding exertion and injury on the field is to change sex: there were half as many injuries in women's games as in men's.
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