International 7s generates more injuries than test 15s, with more than 90 percent of mishaps classified as 'acute'.
A study of the 2008-09 Sevens World Series and the 2009 Sevens World Cup found that teams lost nearly 1 player per tournament, for an average of 3 to 6 weeks. The findings, published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, are consistent with USARFU's attrition rate, according union medical personnel.
Such vivid data anticipates a sports medicine symposium coinciding with next month's USA 7s tournament in Las Vegas. Speakers include Oakland Raiders head physician Warren King, a knee specialist, and San Diego Chargers head physician David Chao, a shoulder expert.
While the 7s findings are recent, King, Chao, and organizer Mike Keating all have been working with the US national team for a decade or more. The symposium therefore holds out not only American rugby's emerging practice but also its historical experience, plus the comparative context of conventional sports.
'One of the most dangerous plays in any sport is hard contact in the air where both players (especially the receiver) are unprotected. The restart in 7s is one of the most exciting plays, yet incredibly dangerous,' observes Keating, USARFU's medical coordinator.
'I cringe every time I see Zach Test race up the field and use his 35-inch vertical leap to challenge an opponent. He is such a great athlete that I love to watch him play, but the medical side of me gets nervous watching him risk his body to be the best player he can be.'
Other sessions are to include concussion, spinal and abdominal injuries and planning and dealing with medical emergencies in rugby.