World Rugby will announce on Tuesday that players who suffer a concussion will likely face a 12-day wait before being allowed to resume training under extended return-to-play protocols.
Under a new individualized approach, all players who have a history of concussion or who fail an off-field head injury assessment during a match face a minimum 12-day waiver before returning to play, meaning most players concussions may miss your team’s next match. game the following week.
Only players who have no history of concussion and do not show symptoms following a medical examination performed after two nights rest (36-48 hours) will be able to resume play after a minimum of seven days following a review by an independent concussion specialist.
Likewise, all players with a concussion history will need to be signed by an independent concussion specialist to return after a minimum of 12 days.
A concussion history is defined by World Rugby as players who have been diagnosed with concussion in the previous three months, have had three diagnosed concussions in the last 12 months, have been diagnosed with five concussions in their career, with psychological issues that can lead to it being more difficult to diagnose. concussion and who took more than 21 days to recover from a previous concussion.
The new individualized approach to concussion cases comes as a result of the latest review of scientific evidence and rugby-specific research by the federation’s independent expert Concussion Working Group.
Professor Bob Cantu, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery who is part of the Concussion Working Group, said following World Rugby’s decision to accept the group’s recommendations: “I believe World Rugby has a head injury assessment protocol that is gold standard, second to none and superior to most.
“As a working group, we discussed the full range of options, from mandating a longer suspension period for all players to maintaining existing protocols, and the group’s consensus is that an approach based on the circumstances of the individual involved is without a doubt the best way forward.”
Regarding the long-term battle to make the sport as safe as possible for all players, Alan Gilpin, World Rugby’s chief executive, added: “We are making progress. area, we cannot stand still and we have to keep evolving.
“It’s never a battle we’re likely to win, but the key for us is to keep advancing the science and as quickly as possible. A recommendation from the Independent Concussion Working Group made a recommendation, we went through our executive committees and process at World Rugby very quickly to make sure we were responding to that change. We just have to keep evolving.
“We’re a contact sport, collision-based, there will always be head impacts. What we’re trying to do is reduce them by teaching better tackling technique, ultimately. From mini rugby to international play, improving tackling technique is what will help us improve in this space. There will always be head impacts and concussions, we will never eradicate that with the nature of the sport we have is what I mean by a battle we will never end up winning but we want to win enough so that the people feel comfortable with our game, that it’s safe to play at all levels and the sport is doing its best to look after the safety and well-being of these players.”
Incidents during the weekend’s Gallagher Premiership final and England’s game with the Barbarians were also mentioned, with Aled Davies’ high entry in particular causing some confusion among the crowd when a red card was expected but Davies was shown yellow. .
“I think we’re getting the message out, but we’re getting it out as quickly as we’d like – the answer is probably now,” added Gilpin. “There’s a lot more briefing for us to do through broadcast and media about trying to change player and coach behavior regarding tackle height. behavior.”
The International Rugby Players organization has called for players to now be open and open regarding head injuries and concussions in order for the new protocols to work efficiently.
Head of Player Welfare Conrad Smith said: “The key to this working – and the important part of changing the culture around concussion – is for players to report their head injuries and any symptoms. Seeing firsthand the amount of work and research that is being done on this extremely complex subject, I am confident in the approach taken and that the authorities are looking out for the player’s best interests.”
Longer layoffs will require bigger Rugby World Cup teams
by Ben Coles
The ramifications of World Rugby’s new extended return-to-play protocols could indeed have been seen on Monday morning following the announcement of Eddie Jones’ squad for the upcoming Australia tour, with England taking a larger group of 36 players. compared to 32 who toured six times. years ago.
Given that the new concussion protocols go into effect on 1 July, the day before England face Australia in the first test in Perth, the risk of losing a player for a minimum of 12 days has led Jones to take more players than in past, given the logistical issues of transporting extra bodies on short notice to Australia. Ireland, who also play midweek matches against the Maori All Blacks, have selected a 40-man squad for their summer tour of New Zealand.
Looking ahead, it seems likely that Rugby World Cup squads will also need to be increased to account for players who are off the pitch for longer periods during the tournament. Teams have selected 31-man squads for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, but that number could increase by four or five, particularly when it comes to top-tier specialists. If that happens, it would lead to fewer selection headaches for coaches in the run-up to the tournament.
As for the regulations themselves, opting for “an approach based on the circumstances of the individual involved” was described as “arguably the best way forward” by Professor Bob Cantu, rather than simply implementing a longer suspension period for 12-year-olds. days. If lobby groups such as Progressive Rugby take the same view on this statement, it will be interesting. Rugby Football League currently operates with a minimum recovery period of 11 days for players who suffer concussions.
The new regulations are sure to prevent scenarios like Kyle Sinckler’s concussion during this year’s Six Nations, when the England manager came off the bench against France seven days after missing a HIA against Ireland.
“There are protocols in place to ensure the safety of players and it is not for me to doubt the medical staff,” Eddie Jones, the England manager, said at the time. ask an independent teacher to judge his status to play the game and then we take all that into consideration and if all is positive he is eligible for selection.”
Having failed his HIA, under the new regulations, Sinckler would have been ruled out for 12 days and lost the game with France.
While player safety is absolutely paramount for Gallagher Premiership clubs, the prospect of losing players for longer periods due to new return-to-play protocols follows clubs being forced to cut rosters due to the reduced salary cap of £6, 4 million to £5 million next season, which could in turn lead to more teams looking to academy opportunities to fill positions.