Taking care in the Olympics: rugby and sporting knee injuries

Written by: Mr Andrew Edwards
Published: | Updated: 06/06/2023
Edited by: Sarah Sherlock

Rugby 7s is a new sport to the Olympics. The athletes will have prepared for months and years to partake in the Olympics. They should be at their peak physical condition. Yet despite this preparation, injuries still happen. Knee injuries are amongst the more common ones seen, and consultant orthopaedic and traumatology surgeon Mr Andrew Edwards has provided thorough explanations in this part I article.


rugby knee injury


What are the most common rugby and sports knee injuries?

The most common rugby union injuries are those to knee ligaments and meniscus cartilages. Rugby 7s tends to have a higher incidence of injury compared to rugby 15s. This is due to the speed and explosive nature of this form of the game. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) is probably the most common injury, but usually can be treated by bracing and rehabilitation.


However, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and significant meniscal tears most often require surgery and a very lengthy time away from the athletes’ sports. Cutting, pivoting, sudden accelerations, and contact moments (tackles) put the knee through enormous strains. It is amazing that the knee can put up with such stresses. I doubt any mechanical devise could possibly cope with what we expect of our knees.



What precautions are taken in professional sporting events to minimise injuries?

In order to minimise injuries to the knee, the athlete maintains optimum strength and conditioning. This starts with core stability, pelvic balance, hip stability, and optimal gait pattern. This goes hand in hand with specific knee conditioning.


Neuromuscular exercise and sports specific conditioning are of great importance, which has been reported to reduce injury to the knee in female football players, and lends itself to all contact, pivoting, cutting, acceleration-deceleration sports including rugby. It is this preparation that takes dedication and time to achieve, minimises the risk of knee injury to the athlete. In addition, a good warm up programme before training and playing also is essential. The football world through the FA introduced the “11+ warmup programme”. This showed that correct preparation to physical exertion could reduce injury incidence. This rings true for rugby 7s and 15s, and many other sports.



Are knee supports in rugby and other sports essential for players?

Certain knee supports for previously injured players are allowed in rugby nowadays. However, these are not of the strength and level of support offered for other sports and activities such as skiing. Therefore, wearing a knee support is not sufficient to prevent ligament injury, but may be used as an adjunct to other treatments for athletes with pre-existing injuries.



If you have had a rugby or other sports injury, you can go to Mr Edward's Top Doctors profile and book a consultation.

By Mr Andrew Edwards
Orthopaedic surgery

Mr Andrew Edwards is a consultant orthopaedic and traumatology surgeon with private practices in Hull and Grimsby. He specialises in sports injuries, traumatic injuries and arthroscopy treatments for hip, knee and ankle alongside cartilage repair. He privately practices at Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital in Anlaby, Hull and at HMT St Hugh's Hospital. He is also lead consultant orthopaedic surgeon for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole (NLAG) NHS Trust at Goole.

Mr Edwards also undertakes treatments for lower-limb disorders, knee pain and performs knee and hip-replacement surgery among other specialisms. He prides himself in providing accurate diagnosis and exceptional treatment for his patients, giving them the possibility to resume a high quality of life whether that's enjoying the outdoors with friends and family or playing sports professionally or for pleasure.

His interest in lower-limb orthopaedics, particularly knee surgery, is just one facet of his expertise; Mr Edwards has significant experience in sports medicine. He set up a sports injuries triage clinic at Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital and runs a clinic at both Flex Health and Rehab and Recover physiotherapists in Hull. 

Mr Edwards has an impressive educational background. After he graduated from the medical school at St Bartholomew's Hospital in 1992, Mr Edwards did further training on the South West Thames circuit. In 2001 he received a diploma in Sports and Exercise Medicine from the University of Bath and was awarded a Master of Surgery at the University of London in 2011. 

Mr Edwards' research and memberships include a fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons and one based in New Zealand where he focused on trauma and knee surgery. He also took a full-time research role at Imperial College London, studying the anatomy of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). He published various peer-reviewed articles regarding cruciate ligament reconstruction and wrote a thesis for his Masters degree.
Mr Edwards is a keen educator, hosting expert-learning sessions at Goole District Hospital and Spire Hull and East Riding Hospital for partial knee and computer-navigated total knee replacements. He mentors medical students from the Hull York Medical School. 

Also, via his own practice clinic Edwards Orthopaedics, he is the team doctor and consultant for various professional rugby clubs in his local area including Hull FC Super League Club, Hull Ionians Rugby Union Club and Yorkshire County Rugby Club.

View Profile

Overall assessment of their patients

  • Related procedures
  • Platelet-rich plasma
    Ozone therapy
    Botulinum toxin (Botox™)
    Abnormal gait
    Epicondylitis (tennis elbow)
    Elbow Pain
    Nerve Compression elbow
    Median nerve compression
    Radial nerve compression
    This website uses our own and third-party Cookies to compile information with the aim of improving our services, to show you advertising related to your preferences as well analysing your browsing habits. You can change your settings HERE.