Professional rugby is becoming more dangerous than ever, according to a new RFU audit which reveals that last season the severity of injuries in top level was the highest on record.
An injury picked up in a match in Premiership Rugby, European and international competition resulted in an average lay-off of 29 days last season – the longest on record.
Concussion remains the most recurring concern for the game, accounting for 17 per cent of all match injuries.
In total, there were 110 reported cases of concussion last season – a 28 per cent increase from the previous season's total of 86.
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The RFU puts this down to improved awareness among players, coaches, referees and medical staff.
Increasingly effective rehabilitation practices were also cited as a reason behind a continued reduction in recurrent match injuries.
"While the injury rate has remained relatively stable since the study began in 2002, we can't ignore the recent trend for an increasing mean severity of injury," said RFU chief medical officer Simon Kemp.
"In terms of concussion, we are continuing to work hard on education, game day management and return to play based on the best medical and scientific evidence we have available to us.
"A key objective for rugby has to be to try and reduce the number of concussions while preserving the essential characteristics of the game and we are hopeful that video clips, collected as part of this study, will help inform the analysis that is being led by World Rugby."