(Reuters) - Concussions accounted for 20% of injuries suffered by rugby players in the English Premiership's 2018-19 season and were the most common injury in matches for an eighth straight season, a Rugby Football Union (RFU) study has said.
While the 2002-03 season had 42 concussions recorded in total, that number has since gone up to over 100 every season since 2014-15.
The 2018-19 season recorded 166 in matches -- the second-highest after the 2016-17 campaign which had 169 -- and 38 in training, with 21% of the players sustaining at least one match concussion.
"The ability of team medical staff to identify significant head injury events in matches was again enhanced during the 2018-19 season with the introduction of a more comprehensive real-time pitch-side video system in the Premiership," the report said.
"Improving the detection of these complex injuries to ensure safe removal of concussed players remains a priority, as is developing and evaluating strategies to reduce concussion incidence."
The season also had an average of two injuries per match in the 12-team league. The RFU added injured players were sidelined for an average period of 34 days in that season while concussion injuries resulted in 22 days missed on average.
Concussions and their long-term effects have been in the spotlight since former players filed a class-action lawsuit against governing bodies World Rugby, the RFU and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) which alleges a failure to protect them from the risks.
Many have been diagnosed with permanent brain damage, early onset dementia, depression or symptoms and signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)