What rugby injuries are in store for the British and Irish Lions tour

The 2017 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand takes place during June and July 2017. The tour will see The Lions play ten rugby union matches, including against all five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises, the New Zealand Barbarians, the Maori All Blacks and three test matches against New Zealand.

The Lions first toured New Zealand in 1888, but only started playing against the New Zealand national team in 1904. Since then they have only won one test series against the All Blacks in 1971. The side only tours every four years and last played in New Zealand in 2005 when they lost the test series 3–0.

In the last Lions Tour the team was hit hard with injuries. Hopefully this year the team will stay fit and manage the huge challenge of beating the All Blacks, the number one team in the world and current World Champions in their own back yard.

As you would expect in a tough, contact sport such as rugby injuries are common. In the British and Irish Lions last tour to Australia in 2013 the following players were injured requiring medical intervention and physiotherapy:

Gethin Jenkins - Calf Injury

Cian Healy - Ankle ligament Injury

Tommy Bowe - Broken Hand

Jonny Sexton - Hamstring Injury

Manu Tuilagi - Shoulder Stinger

Sam Warburton - Hamstring Tear

Paul O’Connell - Broken Arm

The injuries sustained by these professional players are typical of rugby injuries. Stingers and broken bones are common injuries to sustain from direct contact with other players and the ground. Calf injuries and hamstring tears are commonly caused by short bursts of running at speed.

If you play rugby, at whatever level from minis on a Sunday morning right up to the professional game, there is a risk of injury.

There are some things you can do to lower the risk:

Where appropriate clothing and equipment – good footwear, scrum caps, mouth guards

Train regularly to ensure you are fit, strong and match ready

Warm up and cool down ensuring you stretch regularly to reduce the risk of pulling or tearing a muscle

Take notice of niggles and do not play through pain. This may be the first sign of an injury which may settle with a short rest from sport or with some early physiotherapy intervention.


Indeed, this week it was reported that 20-minute exercise programme for young rugby players to improve their strength and balance could help to reduce concussion injuries. The exercises focus on increasing neck muscle strength, balance and movement. The exercise programme is split into four parts - and is made up of:

- a running warm-up with changes of direction (two minutes)

- single leg balance training (four minutes)

- targeted resistance exercises, including on head and neck (eight minutes)

- jumping, side-stepping and landing exercises (six minutes)

Many acute sport injuries can be treated with the P.R.I.C.E. principle. This should be followed for 48-72 hours.

P is for Protection –the purpose of protection is to avoid further injury to the area by protecting the injured structures. The type of protection used varies depending on the injured area but may include a bandage or sling, a splint, brace or supportive tape.

R is for Rest –the purpose of resting is to allow the body’s own healing processes to naturally occur without being impeded by movement of the injured area. Any increase in movement of an injured tissue results in increased circulation to the area which in turn may result in further damage to the injured tissue and/or increased swelling.

I is for Ice – by applying ice either from a freezer, an ice pack or even a pack of peas on to the injury, you will reduce the pain and inflammation. It is advisable to wrap the ice pack in a cloth to prevent cold burns on the skin.

C is for Compression – compression of the swollen area will help to reduce the swelling. Using a stretchy bandage or a tubigrip will suffice.

E is for Elevation – elevation is important immediately post-injury to reduce the amount of blood flow to the injured area. For the lower extremities, the athlete can elevate their leg by lying down and elevating the injured limb on pillows. The key is that the athlete needs to have the injured area above their heart level.

Things to look out for which may need further assessment or treatment:

Difficulty walking because of pain

Severe pain

Severe swelling


If you think you have dislocated a joint

Ongoing pain after you have carried out PRICE and rest

Of course injuries occur in any sport. It is great for children and adults to get involved and enjoy sports whilst trying to reduce the risk of injuries at the same time.  If you do sustain an injury go to an Accident and Emergency department if you think you think it is serious. Otherwise a minor injuries unit or a musculoskeletal physiotherapist are the best places to get your injury assessed and treated.