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World Rugby's latest medical shake-up

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Meet the latest Irishman to become World Rugby's chief medical officer

 

World Rugby will be hoping their latest appointment of an Irish doctor as their chief medical officer won’t have a fractious break-up similar to what occurred when Barry O’Driscoll was on the books of the sport’s governing body. 

The Manchester-based doctor, a cousin of legendary Ireland and Lions player Brian O’Driscoll, cut his ties with World Rugby in 2012 following its introduction of the five-minute concussion bin rule which permitted players to return to the field of play after a serious head injury if they passed a short assessment on the sideline.

O’Driscoll’s disenchantment with the rule helped to make concussion a hot topic in the sport and the concussion bin has since been amended with the introduction of the 10-minute head injury assessment under the watch of Martin Raftery, who succeeded O’Driscoll in 2013. 

The Australian is now set to step away from his position, leaving Eanna Falvey, the former Lions, Ireland and Munster team doctor, poised to become chief medical officer in January 2020 following an interim 10-month period as Raftery’s deputy which will start this week March 1. 

Falvey, who stepped away as Ireland doctor at the end of the last World Cup following a six-year stretch under Declan Kidney and Joe Schmidt, has lately been working at the Santry Sports Clinic in Dublin which has often treated the likes of Johnny Sexton, World Rugby’s 2018 Player on the Year, and many other Irish players.

(Continue reading below…)

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“Rugby is a leading sport in the priority area of player welfare, cares deeply about injury-prevention and medical standards and I’m excited to be joining Martin in a strong and dynamic team,” said Falvey.

“This is a sport built on teamwork and I have been fortunate to have contributed to numerous medical working groups alongside talented medics and scientists and I look forward to continuing that progress in a more central role.”

Raftery has opted scale back his time commitment to the role at the end of the year to concentrate on his business in Australia.

He will continue to provide an input in a part-time capacity as deputy chief medical officer for 12 months from January 2020. Following this transition period World Rugby will seek to appoint a new deputy chief medical officer.

Lions’ Dan Biggar leaves the field in Wellington in 2017 with Eanna Falvey for a medical check-up (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “Player welfare is the number one priority for World Rugby and its unions and I believe we are at the forefront of the sports movement in the important area of injury prevention and management. 

“Dr Falvey is an outstanding appointment. He comes with an impressive CV, a great reputation and a deep knowledge of the sport’s approach to medical and player welfare matters, having made strong contributions to various World Rugby medical and concussion working groups and also as team doctor for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.

“He has an in-depth understanding of wider sports and athlete welfare and we look forward to welcoming him to World Rugby.”

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Meet the latest Irishman to become World Rugby's chief medical officer