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Injury resulting from participation in sporting and physical recreational activities is a major contributor to the overall incidence of injury in the developed world. If sports injuries are to be reduced, a comprehensive approach must be taken to define the nature and magnitude of the problem, to establish models of relationships between risk factors, protective factors and injury experience, and to address injury through well designed intervention and evaluation programmes. The Rugby Injury and Performance Project (RIPP) is a prospective cohort study designed to examine the risk and protective factors for rugby injury. Data were collected on potential risk and protective factors from the RIPP cohort pre-season. Data on exposure to rugby, injury events and medical treatments were collected from the players each week during the season through telephone interviews. Pre-season measures were repeated post-season. A key feature of the design was that data were collected on both injured and non-injured players, allowing a longitudinal comparison of the injury experience of players with and without the factors of interest. A wealth of information was collected on each cohort member during the pre-season interview. A contact rate of 90% was achieved during the weekly follow-up phase. Post-season questionnaires were completed by 76% of the players and 88% of the coaches. Recommendations are made for the use of this methodology by other researchers and future directions for RIPP are described.