SA Rugby will implement the Blue Card System to highlight the importance of correct identification of concussion during matches at the various Coca-Cola Youth Weeks this year, while provincial coaches at school level have been asked to yet again implement the BokSmart ‘Safe Six’ injury prevention exercises.
The implementation of the Blue Card System is aligned with the Laws of the Game of Rugby, in which Law 3.10 empowers the referee to remove any player from a match if he deems the player to be unfit to safely continue playing.
“SA Rugby takes concussion in the game very seriously and in line with this regulation, we’ve decided to implement a concussion Blue Card System at all SA Rugby Youth Week Tournaments in 2017,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“The current SA Rugby Concussion Regulations dictate the management process of a player, who is either concussed, or where one suspects that the player sustained a concussion during a match or practice.“This process is nothing new in terms of the Laws of the Game and we aligned this with the Concussion Regulations. We’ve made great strides in the identification and treatment of concussion in our game but we’ll always strive to be even better at this.”
The additional introduction of the Blue Card System will serve the following purposes:
1. It will increase public, spectator and player awareness regarding concussion identification and the management process that must follow.
2. The Blue Card will be the visual cue that a player has been identified by the referee to be concussed or suspected of having a concussion and must leave the field of play immediately.
3. The Blue Card is therefore the first part of the concussion management process, and those players who receive a Blue Card need to follow the concussion management and Return To Sport guidelines before returning to full contact rugby practice or a match.
4. The Blue Card System will visually highlight the fact that SA Rugby is serious about concussion as well as their on-going commitment to player welfare.
5. The post-concussion/suspected concussion medical management process will be properly implemented at the Youth Weeks due to the appropriately trained medical support staff and structures that are already in place to manage the concussed or suspected concussed player.
Apart from red and yellow cards, referees in action at the various SA Rugby Youth Weeks will also carry a blue card which they will use when a player has a concussion or suspected concussion. This is in line with the practise of “recognise and remove”; where you suspect a player of having sustained a concussion, they are permanently removed from the game.
This is distinctly different from the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocol that takes place at World Rugby approved elite adult tournaments only.
Furthermore, as per SA Rugby’s annual and ongoing Injury and Illness Surveillance and Prevention Project (SARIISPP) applied at the Youth Weeks, the governing body will continue to address the identified specific injury patterns that are more prominent in the game played at these levels via the BokSmart ‘Safe Six’, which targets certain flagged areas of concern – injuries to the knees, hamstrings, lower limbs, ankles and shoulders, which are generally more severe and are potentially also preventable.
“We’re already in our seventh year of SARIISPP and in the fourth year of the BokSmart ‘Safe Six’ survey and would again like to assess the uptake of this intervention at our Youth Weeks, to see if it has improved,” said Roux.
“The ultimate goal is to see whether or not it has had any impact on injury patterns in the Youth Weeks further down the line and we have written to our Provincial Union coaches at these levels to have them implement these BokSmart ‘Safe Six’ exercises with their squads.”