Zero Tolerance For Concussion

New concussion regulations, emphasising the need to “recognise and remove” at amateur level have been approved by the General Council of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).  The new SARU Concussion Regulations, which came into force this month, clarify the approach that must be taken on the management of concussed players and of players who are suspected of being concussed.  “The new regulations underline the message that there should be no hesitation in the case of players who are concussed or even vaguely suspected of being concussed – they must be removed immediately from the field of play,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.

The International Rugby Board introduced the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol as a way of managing players with suspected head injuries at IRB approved elite professional levels, where the diagnosis of concussion was not immediately apparent.  What the provinces of SARU have now agreed is that a ‘zero tolerance’ approach be applied at all other levels of the game.  “SARU views concussion extremely seriously.  SARU therefore insists that every role player involved in all rugby played within South Africa gives the highest level of attention to the most current, evidence-based best practice standards for the prevention, identification, treatment and management of concussion,” said Roux.

In practice this means:

  1. Players who are even suspected of having concussion – or are confirmed as having concussion – must be removed from the field of play and not return to play or train that day.
  2. Should consult with a medical doctor as soon as possible
  3. 3. And where concussion is either suspected or confirmed, and once cleared to do so by the medical doctor, these players must complete the ‘Graduated Return to Play Protocol’, as described in the IRB Concussion guidelines, in accordance with the SARU age appropriate criteria.

The regulation stresses that extra caution should be taken with players of 19 years or younger who have a heightened risk of concussion. “Recognise and remove is the mantra for all involved in rugby,” said Roux.

Photo credit: Wessel Oosthuizen