World Rugby: Injuries not on the rise

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The perception that the number of injuries suffered at World Cups has greatly increased is incorrect, according to rugby's governing body.

In total 22 players were forced out of the 2015 edition during the pool stages, with Wales particularly hard hit. Warren Gatland has seen five members of his squad ruled out during the competition, with Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb and Eli Walker forced out on the eve of the World Cup.

In contrast, 19 players had seen their tournament ended at the same stage of the 2011 World Cup, with the number a massive 37 in 2007 according to the BBC.

With this in mind, World Rugby have asserted that there has been no great increase in injuries in recent years.

"Injury rates at the elite level of the game have not increased since 2002," a World Rugby spokesperson told the BBC.

"It is too early to make comparisons [between 2015 and other World Cups] as it is usual to see fluctuations during an event, but injuries do not appear to be out of step with the norm.

"A full review will be conducted as per usual after the tournament. Player welfare is World Rugby's number one priority."

Brian O'Leary, the head of medical services at Premiership outfit London Irish, believes that it is Wales' unlucky run of injuries and Ireland's spate of injuries in one match that has created the perception that there are more injuries this year than at previous World Cups.

O'Leary told the BBC: "New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, France, England, even Ireland up until [Sunday] hadn't had a huge amount of injuries. Wales have had a huge amount. You have to ask, 'is that unlucky?' Why have others not been affected?'"