An important letter from Dr Clint Readhead and Dr Wayne Viljoen of SARU, makes clear the limitations on the scope of the use of the Head Injury Assessment (HIA).
I recently received an email as per below:
“It has come to my attention that certain schools have implemented a concussion assessment protocol during games, similar to Test and Super Rugby where they allow a player to return to play after the coach has done a concussion assessment. This is a very dangerous practice, and the consequences can be catastrophic.”
Please note, the HIA is not allowed at any level of play within South Africa other than those professional tournaments only such as Test Matches, Super Rugby and The Currie Cup Premier division.
The HIA or Head Injury Assessment protocol is applicable only to these tournaments, WHO HAVE WRITTEN APPROVAL FROM WORLD RUGBY to do so. There are stringent criteria for this approval to be given by World Rugby, including an incident review mechanism and direct reporting to World Rugby.
All other levels including but not limited to senior provincial tournaments, age-grade provincial tournaments, club and schools rugby at all levels, it is simply “Recognise and Remove”.
There are absolutely NO exceptions… This means, if you suspect there is a concussion, there is no assessment process that allows this player to return on the same day. The player has to be permanently removed from play and then may be assessed as many times as they need to be, but they are NOT allowed to return.
These players then have to go into the Graduated Return To Play (GRTP) protocol that is applicable to their age-grade or division, which includes serial medical assessments and a symptom-based and phased return to match play strategy aligned to the Regulations document attached.
Please review again the attached Concussion Regulations, which are quite clear as to what is allowed and at what level of play.
Ensure that this is properly enforced at all respective levels, and see to it that this kind of practice is not allowed at all. Also make sure that all your schools, clubs and referee societies are fully informed as to the above.
Thank you for your support.
Wayne and Clint