World Rugby has approved an amendment to law making it mandatory for players who undertake an off-field screening under the head injury assessment (HIA) protocol not to return before 10 minutes (actual time) have elapsed.
The amendment comes into effect globally from 26 August and applies to all participating elite adult rugby competitions*. It amends the previous time stipulation, which included no minimum requirement.
With the latest data indicating that the average time for the screening to be undertaken by a team or independent doctor being a shade over seven minutes, the introduction of a fixed time will further promote a calm, clinical environment for assessment without rush or risk of screening time falling well under the average completion time. The adjustment will also assist match management.
The three-point-in-time HIA process continues to play a significant role in protecting players and changing culture within the elite game.
Now operational in 22 competitions with strict implementation protocols, the evidence-based process that is underpinned by education, technology and medical management is a driving force behind ever-increasing accuracy of the identification and permanent removal of players with suspected or clear concussion.
- Prior to the HIA’s introduction in 2012, 44 per cent of players with concussion were being accurately identified and permanently removed in-match
- In 2013-14 across eight elite competitions, 87 per cent of players with concussion were accurately identified and permanently removed in-match
- At Rugby World Cup 2015 when video technology was introduced, 95.5 per cent of players with concussion were accurately identified and permanently removed in-match
- Currently, across 22 elite competitions, 92 per cent of players with concussion are accurately identified and permanently removed in-match
In addition, the HIA process continues to be researched across these 22 tournaments to improve off-field screening tools and outcomes from the HIA 1.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont: “Player welfare continues to be our priority at all levels of decision-making and there is no doubt that the HIA process, which operates in elite rugby only has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on the level of care for elite rugby players.
“This evidence-based enhancement to the management of players who are required to undertake an off-field screen as part of the HIA 1 process, is a positive move for players, medics and the game as a whole and comes with the full support of our unions. We also continue to focus on education at community level where ‘recognise and remove’ is the simple but crucial message when it comes to head impacts.”
World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery added: “The HIA process is playing a major role in changing culture and promoting best practice as outlined by the data. However, we continue to strive for evidence-based improvements and the move from a maximum of 10 minutes off-field for the HIA screening to a fixed 10 minutes will further promote a thorough and calm assessment.”
*Exception: The Rugby Championship 2017, which kicks off this weekend, will operate with the amendment in advance of the global implementation date.
The change affects Law 3.12 with the first bullet point now reading [the words in bold/italics are new]:
- Must leave the field of play for 10 minutes (actual time); and
If a player fails to present to a touchline official by the time 10 minutes have elapsed, that player will be deemed to have been permanently replaced.
[Source: Peer reviewed independent and World Rugby injury surveillance data]