A Drastic Rise In ACL Injuries

The last two to three seasons have seen a spate of serious knee injuries, affecting some of the games biggest names on both sides of the world; Clint Gutherson, Greg Inglis, Tom Johnstone and most recently Kallum Watkins. Many people have speculated the causes of the increase to be; tackling styles, boots or harder ground, the fact of the matter is that regardless of the cause it's a horrific injury for anyone to go through and can potentially end careers.

Tackling Styles: Many people have speculated that the tackling style is a massive cause of injury. The NRL banned the third man in attacking the legs in an effort to prevent leg breaks and other serious leg injuries, the rule now stating the third man has to hit the waist and slide down, Super League however, does not have the same governance around these types of tackles.Looking back over most incidents though, most knee injuries occur with one or two tacklers involved without a player around the legs, in-fact the most occur from tackles from behind when being chased that lead to an awkward fall, this leads me nicely to my next point.

Harder Ground: The UK switched to summer Rugby League, obviously meaning that the ground is much harder due to less rainfall and more sun. It's a valid point but there are obvious flaws in this theory, all Super League clubs have top level groundsmen who are paid to make sure the ground is firm and playable, if clubs thought for a second that their best players were being forced from the field due the work of their own staff, the staff wouldn't be associated with the club for much longer. There's another nail in the coffin for this argument, if this was the case there would surely be more ACL injuries in grassroots and lower level leagues who don't have dedicated ground staff.

Boots: A lot of people have asked questions of the players boot choices, for example blades instead of studs. There has always been this myth related to blades that they have a tendency to become lodged in the ground and therefore cause the knee to twist, the science behind this is yet to prove or disprove this and many top coaches and players from various sports have requested investigations into the matter.

There is a fourth possibility that recently crossed my mind, what if it's not the turf, the equipment or tackling, but instead what if it's the players themselves? So many of these injuries occur amongst backs in the modern game, there are ACL injuries with forwards that are usually contact related, but backs never seem to have someone around the legs when the injury occurs.

The explosive power that some of the modern stars of the game have, especially in the legs, is incredible and to put a small section of your body under that level of pressure when putting on huge steps or powering away in a long distance foot race can really cause a lot of strain, what if the stepping movement is what is causing this injury due to the quick shift of weight onto one select area of the body, coupled with the force of a tackler or hitting the hard turf at an awkward angle all potentially putting players in jeopardy.



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