In 1823, William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball in his arms and ran with it. And for the next 156 years forwards have been trying to work out why. - Tasker Watkins VC, LJ.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Concussion - developments.

I'm sorry to keep returning to this; but it keeps coming up.

Benson Stanley, All Black and nephew of the great Smoking Joe Stanley, is on an indefinite break from rugby due to repeat concussions. He talked about it to the NZ Herald - here - and it's well worth a read; the perspective and awareness are notable. It strikes me, anecdotally, that the use of proper concussion management over a longer period in NZ may well be part of that.

The IRB, also, has issued updated directions dated the 4th of August that any contact above the line of the shoulders is to be regarded as serious foul play worthy of a red or yellow card (and my thanks to the lads on Gwlad for spotting this). This, by the way, is a major development in the question I asked before about "Red Card Offence = ?", which I'll deal with it separately. The IRB based this on the medical conference in Lensbury last November showing this was causing most injuries in the elite game; so it's good to see they're getting serious about head injuries.

Meanwhile, by contrast, Berrick Barnes is taking a huge risk to play in the RWC. I've posted on that before; suffice to say, I query it, no matter how much heart it shows.

Domestically, we are into the pre-season games here in Ireland, and still no training at all for the use of the Pocket SCAT 2 card for those required by the concussion regulations to be aware of and familiar with the card. And I've had it confirmed to my by referees in Wales that they have had no training made available either.

That is, bluntly, negligent; there is a duty of care that the governing bodies are failing to discharge. It's placing a duty on the referees, and arguably the coaches, and not training them in how to discharge that duty, or even making them aware of that duty of care. It really is inexcusable, given that this has been on books since June. If, God forbid, something goes wrong and someone suffers catastrophic concussion-based injuries in the next few weeks, then the cross-examination on the training given the referees would not be comfortable for the IRFU. And anyone who doubts that should take a look at how it developed in Vowles v. Evans.

The training is simple; the Pocket SCAT 2 Card, is, after all, designed to be simple. A phone call to SARU or the NZRU, asking them for use of their training documents from the Boksmart or RugbySmart programs pro tem, and the training could be rolled out tomorrow. That it's easy to arrange makes it all the worse that it's not being done, as it's not unduly onerous.

And, as always, the principle applies; better to sort it out yourself, now, than have the Courts sort it out, later.

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