One of the major global sporting events of 2015 begins in England this month – the Rugby Union World Cup.
England, Scotland and Wales are among 20 nations who will do battle to see who will make it to the final at Twickenham on 31st October and lift the famous trophy.
This year’s tournament has an extra special focus on player safety as all 20 Rugby World Cup teams have been warned about head injuries.
World Rugby, the sport’s governing body, have said they are taking the head injury risk very seriously and could impose fines should teams ignore safety guidelines.
Concussion and Rugby
As a contact sport, rugby carries a relatively high risk of injury with players accepting that they’ll take a knock or two during a game.
Head injuries, however, pose a serious risk to a player’s wellbeing, and World Rugby are urging all rugby teams to recognise the signs of concussion and immediately remove a player from the game if they suspect concussion.
With a 59% rise in rugby concussions last year, I certainly hope that World Rugby will stay good to their word and strictly enforce their concussion guidelines.
Wales Winger, George North, is a player who knows the risk of head injury all too well. He has only recently returned to playing again after several months out the game following long-running concussion problems.
North sustained two separate blows to the head during Wales’ Six Nations opening game against England in February and was also briefly knocked unconscious. The Wales medical staff came under criticism for allowing him to play on, but later said that, had they had a clear view of the blows to the head that North took, they would have taken him off the pitch much earlier.
Widespread calls for TV replays to identify rugby head injuries followed George North’s concussion and new technology will be used at this year’s World Cup to help medical teams spot head injuries early.
The new TV replay technology, known as Hawk-Eye, works by recording all broadcast angles of the rugby game in real time and making this footage immediately available to officials, coaches and medical staff.
World Rugby have warned they will scrutinise every head injury during the forthcoming World Cup, and it’s heartening to see them take a tough stance against a major risk to player health, something that is long overdue.
I hope that all organisers of rugby around the world – both professional and amateur – take a similar stance to World Rugby and take the concussion risk seriously. All rugby players and coaches alike need to know what a concussion is, be aware of how to spot it and know when a player should be taken off the pitch.
Ken Brough is a senior personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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