The playing fields of Eton: Sporting injuries in the Australian Army

Rob Marc Orr, Rodney R Pope, Ben Schram

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


The importance of sports participation in the military is encapsulated in the famous quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington, ‘the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton’. However, injuries caused by participation in sport are detrimental to military capability. With the majority of injury research in military populations focusing on physical and military training, minimal research has examined injuries associated with sport participation. The purpose of this study was to investigate patterns of injury from sport participation in Australian Army personnel, in order to guide prevention strategies.
Army injury data was obtained for a two-year period from the Department of Defence Workplace Health, Safety, Compensation and Reporting (WHSCAR) database. Data was extracted for the top five sporting activities causing injuries: soccer, touch football, rugby union/league, Australian Rules football and basketball/netball. The most common body sites, natures and mechanisms of injuries across these 5 sports were then determined.
Sports participation accounted for 11% (n = 1092) of reported injuries (n = 9828) over the data collection period. Soccer was found to have the greatest number of sporting injuries (n = 254, 23.26%), followed by Rugby union/league (n = 250, 22.89%), touch football (n = 203, 18.59%), Australian rules football (n = 131, 12.00%) and basketball/netball (n = 130, 11.90%). The ankle, knee and shoulder were the most commonly injured joints (n = 212, 21.90%; n = 166, 17.15%; n = 112, 11.57% respectively) across these five sports, with soft tissue injury, dislocation and fractures being the most common nature of injury (n = 533, 55.06%; n = 123, 12.71%; n = 115, 11.88% respectively). The most common mechanisms of injuries across the five sports were contact with objects (n = 340, 35.12%), falls (n = 265, 27.38%) and muscular stress (n = 250, 25.83%).
Sports participation is a leading cause of injuries in Army personnel, with soccer and rugby causing around half of all sports injuries. The ankle, knee and shoulder are the joints most commonly injured in sporting activities undertaken by Army personnel. It would appear that the current injury rates, locations and mechanisms are similar to historical rates for Army personnel. The findings of this study should therefore guide intervention strategies for prevention and optimal management of future sports injuries in Army personnel.
Original languageEnglish
Article number134
Pages (from-to)71
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue numberS3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Event2017 ASICS Sports Medicine Australia Conference - The Westin, Langkawi, Malaysia
Duration: 25 Oct 201728 Oct 2017


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