Injured Hawke's Bay rugby, netball and soccer players were paid out more than $3.6 million in lost wages and rehabilitation fees last year by ACC.
Figures released to Hawke's Bay Today reveal the number and cost of serious netball, rugby league, rugby union and soccer-related injury claims nationwide during the past three financial years.
Any injuries which required ACC to make weekly compensation payments for lost wages and rehabilitation were classed as serious. Those that only required medical treatment were not included.
Most of the amount paid out for Hawke's Bay injuries related to rugby union. However, the number of new serious injury claims for rugby has dropped locally in the past three years, down from 139 in 2009-10 to 129 last financial year.
Hawke's Bay Rugby development officer Jarvy Aoake said all coaches at secondary level and above took Rugby Smart courses, which focused on injury prevention.
"Technical aspects like tackling, scrumming and all the bits where there are collisions are covered off."
Since the smart courses were introduced 10 years ago, serious injuries had fallen about 75 per cent, he said.
Players at junior level also received training around safe tackle technique as they moved through grades.
However, rugby was a contact sport and injuries were unavoidable, Mr Aoake said.
Strains, sprains and injuries to knees and ankles were the most common, he said.
Players were also encouraged to stay fit, practise good nutrition and take care of themselves off the field to lessen the likelihood of injuries.
"The size and intensity of the game has changed over the years, that they [players] really need to do that to stay on top of it."
A breakdown of new serious injury claims for Hawke's Bay last financial year showed at least 61 were netball-related, 51 for soccer and at least 30 were rugby league-related.
Nationally, injury stats indicate the four "priority sports" - codes with high numbers of players and injury claim costs - are becoming safer.
The number of new serious injury claims for netball, rugby league, rugby union and soccer have steadily fallen in the past three years - down from 8473 in 2009-10 to 7856 in 2011-12.
The combined injury claims cost taxpayers nearly $230 million, according to ACC.
ACC programme manager for sport Joe Harawira said each code worked hard to reduce injuries within their communities.
"We set a target of 2 per cent reduction in entitlement claims from the priority sports of rugby union, league, netball and football [over the last two financial years]."
The target was well and truly exceeded, with an overall drop of 5 per cent, Mr Harawira said.
"What makes this result even more pleasing is that there were unprecedented increases in player registration in each of these priority sports last year."
Serious injury claim costs from the four priority sports made up more than a fifth of all ACC sport and recreation-related claim costs, Mr Harawira said.
However, the most common type of sport-related injuries were "soft tissue" injuries, such as bruises, strains and sprains - which were not classed as serious injuries by ACC.
About $560,000 was dedicated by ACC to injury prevention programmes annually in the four sports, Mr Harawira said. Reducing the severity of injuries suffered on the field or court was a major part of the programmes.APNZ