Teuila Fuatai

Teuila Fuatai is a reporter for the NZ Herald

Fewer costly sports injuries - ACC

Injured Wairarapa rugby, netball and soccer players were paid out more than $644,000 in lost wages and rehabilitation fees last year by ACC.

Figures released to the Times-Age 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 are classed as serious. Those which only required medical treatment are not included.

More than half the amount paid out for Wairarapa injuries related to rugby union.

Wairarapa Bush Rugby Union rugby development officer Stacey Grant said all coaches were put through injury prevention and tackling technique courses.

"It is a contact sport so there's always going to be injuries."

Ankle, shoulder and knee injuries were most common on the field, he said.

Players were also warned against playing if they were out of shape.

"If you're a little bit unfit, sometimes you can get fatigued earlier and then you can get injured because you're not thinking properly," Mr Grant said.

In Wairarapa, 41 new serious injury claims were rugby union-related in the 12 months to June last year. There were no new serious injury claims for rugby league, nine for netball and 15 for soccer during the period.

Nationally, the 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 the number of injuries.

"We set a target of two 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 five 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.

ACC spends about $560,000 annually on injury prevention programmes.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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