Tendon and Ligament Injuries in Elite Rugby: The Potential Genetic Influence
This article reviews tendon and ligament injury incidence and severity within elite rugby union and rugby league. Furthermore, it discusses the biological makeup of tendons and ligaments and how genetic variation may influence this and predisposition to injury. Elite rugby has one of the highest reported injury incidences of any professional sport. This is likely due to a combination of well-established injury surveillance systems and the characteristics of the game, whereby high-impact body contact frequently occurs, in addition to the high intensity, multispeed and multidirectional nature of play. Some of the most severe of all these injuries are tendon and ligament/joint (non-bone), and therefore, potentially the most debilitating to a player and playing squad across a season or World Cup competition. The aetiology of these injuries is highly multi-factorial, with a growing body of evidence suggesting that some of the inter-individual variability in injury susceptibility may be due to genetic variation. However, little effort has been devoted to the study of genetic injury traits within rugby athletes. Due to a growing understanding of the molecular characteristics underpinning the aetiology of injury, investigating genetic variation within elite rugby is a viable and worthy proposition. Therefore, we propose several single nucleotide polymorphisms within candidate genes of interest; COL1A1, COL3A1, COL5A1, MIR608, MMP3, TIMP2, VEGFA, NID1 and COLGALT1 warrant further study within elite rugby and other invasion sports.