SA Rugby will implement a blue-card system at its 2017 Youth Week tournaments to highlight the identification of concussion during matches.
It was announced on Monday that the blue-card system – which aligns with the laws of the game of rugby – will be trialled at all the tournaments, from the U13 Craven Week event right through to the U18 tournament.
Apart from red and yellow cards, referees will also carry a blue card, which they will use when a player has a concussion or suspected concussion. This is in line with the practise of ‘recognise and remove’; where you suspect a player of having sustained a concussion they are permanently removed from the game.
As part of Law 3.10, the system empowers the referee to remove any player from a match if he deems the player to be unfit to safely continue playing.
‘The current SA Rugby concussion regulations dictate the management process of a player, who is either concussed, or where one suspects that the player sustained a concussion during a match or practice,’ said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
‘We’ve made great strides in the identification and treatment of concussion in our game, but we’ll always strive to be even better at this.’
The introduction of the blue card will serve the following purposes:
– It will increase public, spectator and player awareness regarding concussion identification and the management process that must follow.
– Be the visual cue that a player has been identified by the referee to be concussed or suspected of having a concussion and must leave the field of play immediately.
– As the first part of the concussion management process, those players who receive a blue card need to follow the concussion management and return to sport guidelines before returning to full contact rugby practice or a match.
– Highlight the fact that SA Rugby is serious about concussion, as well as its ongoing commitment to player welfare.
– The post-concussion/suspected concussion medical management process will be properly implemented at the Youth Weeks due to the appropriately trained medical support staff and structures that are already in place to manage the concussed or suspected concussed player.
This system is different from the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol that takes place at World Rugby’s approved elite adult tournaments only.
Furthermore, as per SA Rugby’s annual and ongoing Injury and Illness Surveillance and Prevention Project (SARIISPP) applied at the Youth Weeks, the governing body will continue to address the identified specific injury patterns that are more prominent in the game played at these levels via the BokSmart ‘Safe Six’, which targets certain flagged areas of concern – injuries to the knees, hamstrings, lower limbs, ankles and shoulders, which are generally more severe and are potentially also preventable.
‘We’re already in our seventh year of SARIISPP and in the fourth year of the BokSmart ‘Safe Six’ survey and would like to assess the uptake of this intervention the at youth weeks again to see if it has improved,’ Roux added.
‘The ultimate goal is to see whether or not it has had any impact on injury patterns further down the line, and we have written to our provincial union coaches at these levels to have them implement these exercises with their squads.’
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