A sprained ankle is one of the most common sporting injuries, causing a player to miss anything from a few days to several weeks.
Rugby players are especially susceptible to sprained ankles - this is a high speed contact sport played on natural surfaces, with many opportunities to twist or turn. Injuries can occur in the tackle, in a ruck or maul, even just from going over on the joint on rough or uneven ground.
The common symptoms of a sprained ankle include pain around the joint, and swelling. In many cases the swelling can be considerable - the pain will also vary greatly.
If you suffer this injury, immediately get off the field and follow the RICE protocol of rest, ice, compression and elevation. This will reduce the pain and get the initial swelling down, allowing a more complete diagnosis to be made.
If the injury does not improve in a couple of days, you will need to consult a doctor or sports medicine specialist. In order to make a diagnosis they will need to know your history of injury, how the injury occurred, and of course conduct a physical examination. They may also want to take x-rays to confirm or rule out any breaks or fractures.
Treatment will depend on the diagnosis. If the injury is not too severe you will probably have to wear an ankle support or a removable plastic cast for protection.
You will also need to increase strength and flexibility - a program of physiotherapy will typically include the use of plyometric exercises and wobble boards to improve proprioception.