Head injuries: Rugby Championship to feature pitch-side concussion assessment

2012-08-10 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The Rugby Championship, kicking off on August 18 with a double header (Wallabies vs All Blacks in Sydney, Springboks vs Pumas in Cape Town), will feature the trial Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) Protocols, part of a new global initiative designed to further enhance player welfare.

Sanzar CEO Greg Peters said that player welfare was paramount and this trial was another positive step in ensuring that.

“Any initiative to safeguard our players is always welcomed, and we look forward to applying the new trial to The Rugby Championship.

“This will allow players who may have suffered a head injury to leave the field for a five-minute period,” Peters said.

The first PSCA trials were held at this year’s Junior World Championship and Junior World Trophy, and Peters said the new laws would be an important addition to the game.

“With players involved in the Rugby Championship playing against the best of the best, it is important that all measures be put in place to ensure player welfare and that we operate to best medical practice,” Peters said.

IRB chief medical officer Martin Raftery said the medical teams of rugby would play a key role.

“For the first time, we are able to deliver a standardised procedure of assessment that replaces an on-field ‘on the run’ assessment and is based on medical best practice.

“It provides an extra layer of protection for our players and delivers the ability for the match doctor and the team doctor to make an assessment in a controlled environment,” he said.

“It is important to remember that these trials will only operate at the elite level of the Game where there are experienced doctors present,” Raftery added.

Pitch side concussion assessment protocols include:

• The recommendation to remove the player can be made by the referee, the independent match day doctor or the team doctor.

• Once that command is made, the referee will indicate that the player is leaving the field of play with a hand signal where he touches his head three times.

• Once the player has been removed from the field of play and temporarily replaced, the team and independent match doctors will proceed through an IRB pitch-side concussion assessment procedure, incorporating standardised questions and observations.

• If the player fails any aspect of the assessment and has relevant symptoms he will not be able to return to the field of play, then the substitution becomes permanent.

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