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

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Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Early online date28 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2020


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Data sources: Published and unpublished reports of any age, identified by searching electronic databases, platforms, and reference lists.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.

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