The relationships between rugby union, and health and wellbeing: A scoping review

Steffan Griffin, Nirmala Kanthi Panagodage Perera, Andrew Murray, Catherine Hartley, Samantha Fawkner, Simon PT Kemp, Keith A Stokes, Paul Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Objective: To scope the relationships between rugby union, and health and wellbeing.
Design: Scoping review.
Data sources: Published and unpublished reports of any age, identified by searching electronic databases, platforms, and reference lists.
Methods: A 3-step search strategy identified relevant published primary, secondary studies and grey literature, which were screened using a priori inclusion criteria. Data were extracted using a standardised tool, to form (1) a numerical analysis and (2) a thematic summary.
Results and discussion: 6658 records were identified, and 198 studies met the inclusion criteria. All forms of rugby union can provide health-enhancing physical activity. ‘Non-contact’ and wheelchair rugby in particular provide a wide range of physical, and mental health and wellbeing benefits. The evidence is either mixed or unclear in relation to ‘contact’ rugby union and its effects on a range of physical health domains. Injury and concussion incidence rates are
high for contact rugby union relative to other sports.
Conclusions: A wide range of stakeholders as well as existing and potential participants can use this information to make a more informed decision about participating in and promoting rugby union as a health-enhancing activity. Industry and policymakers can use this review to inform policies and strategies that look to increase participation rates and use rugby union as a vehicle to contribute positively to population health. Further research understanding rugby union’s contribution to physical activity as well as to muscle-strengthening and balance is indicated, as well as research examining more health and wellbeing outcomes across more diverse cohorts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Early online date28 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2020


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