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World Rugby extends concussion stand-down period

The new measures will be in place for Ireland’s summer tour to New Zealand.

James Ryan leaves the field for a HIA during Ireland's Six Nations meeting with England earlier this year.
James Ryan leaves the field for a HIA during Ireland's Six Nations meeting with England earlier this year.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WORLD RUGBY IS extending the concussion stand-down period in a significant protocol change that will result in most players diagnosed with concussion missing their next match.

Currently, players who fail a head injury assessment (HIA) can return to play seven days later if they have successfully completed the return-to-play-protocols.

Under the new guidelines, most players diagnosed with concussion – including those with a history of concussion or who are removed from a match with obvious concussion symptoms – will sit out from play for a minimum of 12 days, an increase of five days on the current stand-down period.

No player with concussion symptoms will return earlier than the seventh day after injury. To be cleared to play after seven days, the player in question will need to have no concussion history, show no symptoms 36 hours after the game and be cleared to play by an independent concussion consultant. 

The new criteria will be implemented globally from 1 July ahead of the international summer tours – including Ireland’s five-game tour to New Zealand.

World Rugby state that the changes are based on the latest review of scientific evidence and rugby-specific research by the federation’s independent Concussion Working Group.

World Rugby Chief Medical Officer, Dr Éanna Falvey said: “This individualised rehabilitation approach supports our mission that the welfare of players comes first. It mirrors our promise to continually monitor, review and evolve our protocols based on scientific advice and evidence.

“Rugby is a leading sport in head-injury management, but we never stand still. It’s not just a new protocol – it’s going to be a new mindset for coaches and players.

Our approach means it is now overwhelmingly likely a player diagnosed with a concussion won’t play in their team’s next match. World Rugby firmly believes that scientific evidence supports our protocols, but we are continually monitoring and testing them to ensure that they are fit for the modern game.

“We recognise that there are differences in concussion symptoms and concussion history and this process enables us to further protect elite players by individualising their rehabilitation. It also keeps in place all the benefits of the previous protocols which have been so successful in beginning to tackle under reporting of symptoms which evidence shows that, while improving, remains an issue.”

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World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin added: “World Rugby will never stand still on player welfare and once again we are putting those words into action in line with our six-point plan.

“We will continue to work with players across the world, at all levels of the game, to educate the importance of brain health and of reporting symptoms where they occur, while doing everything we can to reduce the risks.

“Rugby is a game that bring immense benefits to those who play, benefits which far outweigh the risks. However, we know that any collision sport such as ours will result in injury and it is incumbent upon us to provide our players with the best advice we can and that is exactly what we’re doing with these Individualised Rehabilitation protocols.”

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Ciarán Kennedy

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