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World Rugby make startling claim regarding on-field concussion surveillance

By Online Editors
Clermont's Jamie Cudmore (right) leaves the field early in the first half due to concussion during the 2015 European Champions Cup final against Toulon at Twickenham (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

World Rugby have claimed that less than six per cent of concussed players are now incorrectly left on the field of play compared to 56 per cent in 2012. 


The sharp reduction they are claiming to have happened in the past seven years was part of the information circulated in Paris on the third and final day of a player welfare symposium. 

With the World Cup now just six months away, the governing body has insisted it is committed to making a further reduction in the number of concussed players avoiding detection on the field of play. 

Four new components – designed to enhance uniformed data collection and advance World Rugby’s evidence-based approach to injury-management – are to be added to a package called Premium Standards for Elite Competitions.

Those new are mandatory uniformed injury surveillance programmes compliant with the World Rugby consensus statement, mandatory presence of a World Rugby standard match day doctor in addition to team medics at every match, mandatory video review technology functionality to assist with the identification and management of head injuries, and mandatory presence of a World Rugby representative on the HIA review process.

(Continue reading below…)

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These standards are applicable to World Rugby sanctioned events including Rugby World Cup, Women’s Rugby World Cup, Six Nations, Rugby Championship, Super Rugby, Champions Cup and elite domestic club rugby competitions.

Dr Martin Raftery, the outgoing World Rugby chief medical officer, said: “With a focus on injury prevention, we have now enhanced the package of mandatory standards ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019 to ensure that all competitions are capturing like-for-like injury data, have dedicated match day doctors and video review for medical purposes. We have the full support of unions and competitions and would like to thank them for their commitment.”

Chairman Bill Beaumont added: “Rugby World Cup 2015 raised the bar with the introduction of detailed mandatory standards that included independent concussion consultants, video review to identify potential head injuries, independent match day doctors and accreditation of medics.


“These standards were subsequently rolled-out across the game and are underpinning enhanced concussion prevention, identification, and management, resulting in concussion incidence dropping.”

Alongside increases in concussion awareness, education and protocol compliance, World Rugby is claiming that its HIA process has also played a central role in the reduction of concussion rates in elite rugby. 

The latest data from the RFU Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Project determined a 14.3 per cent reduction in concussion rates in elite English rugby – the first drop since the tool was introduced to help protect players. They say it reflects a global trend in this priority player welfare area.

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