Concussion in Rugby

How common is concussion in rugby?

It is hard to say how common concussion is as players often don’t admit to being concussed or there isn’t someone who can correctly diagnose concussion available at the time.

How common concussion is also varies depending on the level of play; studies in professional rugby have shown that it occurs at a rate of about 3.9 per 1000 player hours (i.e. one concussion in every six games among all the players involved) whereas studies at amateur adult level suggest that concussion occurs at a rate of about 1.2 per 1000 player hours (i.e. one in every 21 games).

What is rugby doing about concussion?

Over the years there have been a number of specific initiatives within rugby, and an ongoing programme of player, coach and official training and education which all contributes to the prevention of concussion. Some of these include:

  • Laws
  • Regulations 
  • Guidelines: the RFU has been involved in and contributed to the development of current international guidelines on concussion management in sport and specifically in rugby, with the IRB. These guidelines have been developed utilising international research evidence and expert opinion and underpin what we develop in this area.
  • Concussion awareness and education targeting players, coaches and officials 
  • Coach education 
  • First aider education
  • Healthcare professional education 
  • Professional player testing

Full information about concussion in rugby (PDF 1MB)

The Drake Foundation 

The Drake Foundation is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving evidence-based measures for the understanding of concussion injuries in sport, based on scientific research and insight.

The Drake Foundation is funding the BRAIN Study, a collaborative study examining brain health and healthy ageing in approximately 200 former elite rugby players aged 50+. The researchers running this study are from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM).

The Drake Foundation is also working in partnership with England Rugby alongside the Football Association to organise an Annual UK Sports Concussion Research Symposium, in which experts from across the UK are brought together to share knowledge and strengthen research collaborations. The first symposium was held at Twickenham in November 2016.

For more information, visit

The information contained in this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for appropriate medical advice or care. If you believe that you or someone under your care has sustained a concussion we strongly recommend that you contact a qualified health care professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The authors have made responsible efforts to include accurate and timely information. However they make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy of the information contained and specifically disclaim any liability in connection with the content on this site.