Wayne Barnes is hoping that World Rugby’s second annual player welfare and laws symposium will help the sport better implement evidence-based injury-prevention strategies to make the game safer.


Fresh from assistant referee duties at last weekend’s Wales-France Guinness Six Nations match in Cardiff, Barnes is due to attend the player safety forum in Paris on March 3-5 along with new All Blacks coach Ian Foster and a host of other high profile figures throughout the sport. 

Speaking to RugbyPass ahead of his trip to a city he will return to on March 14 as he is the referee for the France versus Ireland Six Nations game, Barnes said: “This is a really exciting piece of work to be involved in. 

“I’m sure everyone has got a lot of ideas but to actually get the evidence from expert analysis and to also work with the coaches, players and referees to make our game better, that is what I love about our game – all the stakeholders actually have an input.

“You can imagine some great discussion is going to take place with the New Zealand coach, with an ex-international player from England, some referees, medics and others. 

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“We will make some recommendations around laws but it’s not going to be a referees’ thing or a coaches’ thing, it’s going to be what us all as a group think. We are going to discuss using hard evidence about the way we might try and make the game safer for the players.

“I just think that’s a lovely piece of work and I’m really excited to be involved in that. I’m not going to go and jump the gun and say these are going to be the recommendations that I think we happen, but we will see some really nice suggestions come out of that.”

The forum will feature a dedicated breakdown working group meeting to consider injury trends and potential law trials for an area of the game accountable for approximately nine per cent of match injuries, but with a higher than average severity in the elite game.


Barnes admitted he enjoys being able to speak about the game, which is why in recent times he has been a guest on the programmes of BT Sport, the UK-based TV company that broadcasts the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken European Champions Cup.  

“It’s not a straightforward game that we are involved in, so you just try and help educate viewers and tell them what the current hot topics of refereeing are,” he explained. 

“That’s part of my role as an international ref. It’s a great opportunity for the refereeing fraternity to explain what we are trying to do and help people understand the amount of work we do in preparation for games, in reviewing games, and the physical demands of being a referee.”

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