Players, coaches and officials at all levels of the game – from professional to grassroots – are becoming more aware of the dangers of concussion than ever before. The RFU has helped to implement a raft of measures across the game in a bid to continue to widen knowledge and increase player safety.
At amateur levels of the game, strides have also been made to increase education and awareness.
All new coaches must complete an RFU Rugby Ready course which includes concussion awareness and education through the IRB Rugby Ready Manual. On average, around 8,500 coaches and referee complete the course each year.
In addition, the RFU launched a stand-alone one hour concussion education module, which is delivered to existing coaches, teachers, referees and players during the Continual Personal Development programme.All RFU Licensed coaches (around 9,500), have to undertake concussion education through the RFU Rugby Smart Course, in order to maintain their license. This includes a face-to-face presentation and provision of “Don’t be a Headcase” Resources.
The main thrust of the education is the four Rs – Remove, Rest, Recover, Return.
Dr England stressed the importance of amateur players in understanding that resources differ wildly in terms of medical assessments compared to the professional game.
“That’s why we very simply adopt the principle of Recognise and Remove and then you Recover and Return to play in a sensible, structured way.
“And for children it is a minimum of 23 days from the date of injury but they must be symptom free and they must have completed the graduated return to play protocols.”
Six stages of the Graduated Return to Play Protocol for all levels:
- Minimum rest period
- Light aerobic exercise
- Sport-specific exercise
- Non-contact training drills
- Full practice contact
- Return to Play