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.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Concussion Guidelines - Training

It's the start of August.

In the Northern Hemisphere, that means that the pre-season training is now moving back into full-contact. The first NH warm-up games for the Rugby World Cup are being played this weekend; in the next two to three weeks, clubs at all levels will be playing their pre-season friendlies. The first competitions will be starting up. The season is starting back up.

So, what I'm hearing talking to people in rugby around the place is all the more astonishing.

The IRB concussion guidelines came in at the start of June - two months ago. They are in force, right now. Everyone will be using them from this season onwards.

Yet most coaches I've spoken to have never even heard of them, still less been trained in them. Referees are aware of them, but haven't been trained in them.

If this is the case, it's quite amazing. Here you have guidelines brought in specifically for player safety, specifically to be easy to use by anyone so that concussion is effectively dealt with - and nothing is being done about it!

It's been a dry enough year in Ireland. The ground is hard. You wouldn't want to hit it hard. But if someone does, and gets a bad concussion injury that's not properly dealt with because the coaches and referees haven't been shown how to use the tools they're expected to use, then the fall-out could be ugly.

Failure to apply laws of the game directed at player safety has opened up legal liability before; but in this case, opening that door by just not bothering to take the time to show referees and coaches how to use something as simple as the SCAT II Card would be mind-boggling.

I hope, fervently hope, that this isn't the case; but if it is, it's going to have to be addressed, fast.

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