GAMES missed by players through concussion spiked last year due to the AFL's new guidelines enforcing a mandatory minimum 12-day time on the sidelines, the League's injury report for 2021 shows.

The AFL on Friday released its injury report from last year, with games missed due to concussions rising from 1.3 injuries a club in 2020 to 3.68 last season in what was the first time players suffering concussion were forced to miss at least one match to accommodate the League's enhanced protocols.

The rise in games missed by players due to the head knocks was attributable to the AFL and AFLW concussion guidelines as the League lifted its system for markers for players to be able to return to the field. 

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"In following the guidelines, the earliest that a player could return to play after a concussion was 12 days, meaning that players with a concussion were required to miss at least one match (other than where no match was scheduled in the 12-day period after the concussion) and are therefore included in the incidence figures," the AFL's statement said.

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Concussion ranked in the top-three most common injuries resulting in missed matches last season, alongside hamstring and calf strains. 

Andrew Dillion, the AFL's general manager of football, legal and integrity, said the new concussion rules introduced last year were designed to further protect the players.

"Our aim is to continue to provide players with the safest possible environment in a contact sport and this data allows us to support ongoing research into injury prevention and management," he said. 

"The AFL and AFLW Concussion Guidelines are the most stringent concussion protocols in Australian sport, and we are committed to continuing to listen and learn and take action – both at the elite and community level – when dealing with concussion."

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Hamstrings were the leading injury last year and rose slightly from 2020 (which had scaled results due to the differing state league fixture that season) from 4.86 new injuries per club to 4.94 last year. There were on average 20 missed AFL matches per club due to hamstring problems. 

In total the report shows the injury incidence level, which is the number of new injuries resulting in missed games at each club, was 33.6 new injuries per club last season compared to 33.1 the previous year.

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