Australian rules football

An estimated 537,000 Australians aged 15 and over played Australian rules football in 2019–20. There were 2,800 injury hospitalisations attributed to Australian rules football—2,300 male and 500 female. This was 2,400 less than the year before. For those aged 15 and over, the rate of hospitalisation was about 415 per 100,000 participants.

The highest number of hospitalisations was in the 15–19 age group (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Age distribution of injury hospitalisations from Australian rules football, 2019–20

Column graph showing the age distribution of injury hospitalisations.

Source: AIHW NHMD.

For more detail, see data table A14.

Half of the injuries were fractures (50%), and another 1 in 5 were soft-tissue injuries (21%) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Injury hospitalisations from Australian rules football, by type of injury as a proportion, 2019–20

Bar graph showing the proportion of injury hospitalisations by main type of injury.

Note: Type of injury is derived from the principal diagnosis.
Source: AIHW NHMD.

For more detail, see data table A25.

There were 246 hospitalisations for concussion, 196 for males and 50 for females.

The hip or leg was the main body part injured in just over a quarter of cases (26%), followed by the head and neck (24%) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Injury hospitalisations from Australian rules football, by body part injured, as a proportion, 2019–20

Outline of a person with body regions labelled, marked with the percentage of hospitalised injuries for each region.

Note: Body part injured is derived from the principal diagnosis.
Source: AIHW NHMD.

For more detail, see data table A26.

Where the cause of injury was specified, contact with another person was the most common cause (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Cause of injury as a proportion when specified, hospitalisations from Australian rules football, 2019–20

Bar graph showing the proportion of hospitalisations by cause of injury when specified. Contact with another person 35%25 of those specified, falls involving another person 26%25.

Source: AIHW NHMD.

For more detail, see data table A27.

Seasonality and COVID-19

As a winter sport, Australian rules football usually sees a peak in injury hospitalisations in late autumn and the winter months. The interruption caused by COVID-19 is evident in the drop from March 2020 (Figure 5). There were around 86% fewer hospitalisations from March to June in 2020 than the same period in 2019.

Figure 5: Injury hospitalisations from Australian rules football by month of admission, 2017–18 to 2019–20

Line graph with 3 lines for 3 financial years of hospitalisations by month of admission, illustrating the drop in hospitalisations after March 2020.

Notes
1. Months have been standardised to 31 days.
2. A scale up factor has been applied to June admissions to account for cases not yet separated.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detail, see data table B3.