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, December 6, 2011

IRB Concussion Training

The IRB have finally made the training in how to use their Concussion Regulations available; you can look at the regulations, with the modules in the top left of the screen, HERE.

The first thing I have to say is that they are very, very good.

The second thing I have to say is that if the aim is to make it easily accessible for everyone, I cannot for the life of me fathom why it should require registration and an IRB passport to be accessible.

That said, the format is very easy to follow, and very user-friendly. Anyone who has ever seen PADI's online e-Learning training for diving will find it very familiar in the combination of modular units, videos, and knowledge reviews. It was clearly put together at least in part during the recent Rugby World Cup in New Zealand; many of the participants have RWC2011 clothing on them, and the matches that can be seen on the screen behind the referees who talk in it, Bryce Lawrence and George Clancy, are (as far as I can see) from the RWC2011. It deals with the regulations, what the requirements under the regulations are, and how to deal with them. It is, in short, what I and others have been calling for; and it is a resource that anyone else, in any sport that uses the Zurich Consensus - be it football, NFL, GAA, whatever - would be well advised to look at as a model of how to do it.

Of interest for this blog are a couple of points. First, the IRB's website usage under their disclaimer appears to be governed by the law of England and Wales (that the IRB persistently drop the "and Wales" cannot do much for blood pressure west of Offa's Dyke).  However, the training is based not on E&W law of personal injuries, but Irish law. That is extremely interesting, and - as a practitioner in the area in Ireland - gratifying; it does mean, however, that the choice of jurisdiction as regards the IRB remains a very tangled web.

Secondly, it means that the IRFU has no excuses now not to roll out and enforce this training. Any suggestion that the Concussion Regulations did not change the status quo or that referees should not be using the Pocket Scat 2 Card (and amazing though this seems, the IRFU website openly states that, "[w]hile referees will see a reference to Pocket Scat2 in the iRB Guidelines, it is important to clarify that it is not necessary to attempt to use this to assist in the identification of suspected concussion.") can safely be dismissed when you hear Bryce Lawrence, on an IRB training guide under Irish law stating that referees should regard the Pocket Scat 2 Card as part of their on-field kit and use it. The same would, of course, apply to unions such as the WRU and SRU if they have not yet used this training.

Thirdly, the past failures of the IRB, IRFU and others are now thrown into sharp relief. Under these guidelines, the Morgan Parra and Will Genia incidents were, unequivocally, wrongly handled. The regulations put in place for player safety were not enforced; and that, under Vowles v. Evans, which would be good authority in Ireland, means potential liability.

In summation; a very good job, if late. To coaches and referees, I would say, simply; look at it, learn it, and always, always follow it - for your own sake, as well as that of the players.