Players at a leading Australian rugby club who underwent a high-intensity off-season strength training program, experienced dramatically fewer non-contact injuries during the playing season. The lower incidence of injury can be traced to an emphasis on improving basic strength and the use of rugby-specific strength equipment.

Each year the Sydney University Football Club selects a group of players for its Elite Development Squad to prepare for the next season. In the year 2005, players committed themselves to around fourteen weeks of intensive training involving six to seven sessions per week of weights, skills and fitness work.

After the 2005 season was over, a medical report analyzing the injury incidence in the Club's eight teams, was issued. The report particularly highlighted the members of the Elite Development Squad, noting that during the season "the EDS squad suffered only two non contact injuries, both muscle strains, which resulted in only four games lost to injury."

More specifically, among the 36 players who completed the full EDS program there was "only one calf strain and one hamstring strain ... they had no back pain or groin pain necessitating loss of game time." By contrast, in the  Club as a whole, there were 28 instances of low back pain, 27 hamstring injuries, 27 groin injuries and 6 quadriceps strains.

Two non contact injuries in over 1000 hours of playing time is an extraordinarily low figure,  particularly in comparison with the Club's other players who accumulated over 80 injuries. While, it is obviously unwise to attach too much significance to the experience of one club over a single season, the disparity in injury rates cannot be chalked up as mere chance. Therefore it is necessary to explore possible reasons for this very favorable outcome. There are three relevant factors responsible for the reduction in injuries:

Duration and intensity of the training program

An off-season involving around 90 uninterrupted training sessions creates a near ideal opportunity for players to enhance their basic strength and fitness for rugby. Very few non-professional players would have the commitment and dedication to stick to such an exacting schedule. And few professional players would have such a large block of time available.

Emphasis on basic strength development

A distinguishing feature of the program's approach is the concentration on heavy lower body work through exercises such as squats, deadlifts and cleans.

Use of the ScrumTruk

In addition to their free weights exercises the group regularly used the rugby specific MyoQuip ScrumTruk as a core component of their leg strength work. Although it works basically the same muscle groups as the barbell squat, the fact that the resistance is in the horizontal rather than the vertical plane means that there is no adverse loading on the lumbar spine.

ScrumTruk's main benefit in injury minimization, may be in relation to the hamstrings. Both the barbell squat and the conventional leg press deliver constant resistance. When performing these movements concentrically the muscles involved are under very partial load as the hip and knee joints move to full extension. By contrast ScrumTruk provides continually increasing resistance throughout the exercise. Because of this, the muscles involved are strongly activated over the full exercise range . Even more importantly, they are working at close to full load at the conclusion of the movement. This  leads to heavy eccentric loading on the hamstrings when they are near fully extension.

The low injury incidence achieved by elite training squad seems to suggest that other teams can benefit similarly by implementing a long, intensive off-season training program concentrating on the development of basic lower body strength. In addition to the improved injury outcomes, there are  substantial strength gains from following such a program.