The new rules announced this week for the assessment and management of concussion in professional rugby union are another step forward, according to Headway – the brain injury association.
The changes to the existing rules include:
- The period of time allowed for doctors to assess a player for concussion has been doubled to 10 minutes;
- All players, coaches and officials now need to take and pass an online training course designed to improve the awareness and understanding of concussion. The penalties of non or late compliance include fines and suspensions;
- The memory test aspect of the pitchside concussion assessment tool has been strengthened and the balance test altered;
- All Premiership grounds and Twickenham, the home of England internationals, will have medical teams with access to replays to help that decision;
- Any player with confirmed or suspected concussion will be permanently removed from the game;
- An independent review will be held of the on-field management of all cases during Premiership Rugby and England matches.
“It is good to see that rugby union is taking the issue of concussion seriously,” said Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway.
“We are pleased that the period of time for the off-pitch assessment of players has been doubled and we hope that club doctors will be encouraged to use the full 10 minutes and not rush players back onto the pitch. The message must remain ‘If in doubt, sit them out’.
“We also welcome the introduction of the awareness module for all players, coaches and officials. Players need to understand how easily the brain can be injured – sometimes with lifelong consequences.
“You often hear of sportspeople saying they’re aware of the risks and make considered choices, but we would question whether that’s true. More needs to be done to make players aware of what a concussion is and what are the dangers of not managing head injuries properly.
“We are looking forward to reviewing the module, while it will also be interesting to learn more about how the independent review process will work.
“It is positive to see rugby take another important step forward in the assessment and treatment of concussion and we hope other sports take notice.”