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World Rugby Medical Commission Conference to tackle injury prevention

Press Release

9 November 2016

  • Leading independent and rugby medical experts to consider injury-prevention strategies
  • World Rugby committed to evidence-based approach to player welfare
  • World Rugby player welfare education completed by record numbers

Further reducing injury risk in age-grade rugby, enhancing the medical framework for developing rugby nations and a review of progress of rugby's concussion education and management protocols are the headline topics at the eighth World Rugby Medical Commission Conference in London on 14-15 November.

Running alongside the World Rugby Conference and Exhibition, the key forum will bring together leading rugby, sporting and independent medical experts to review the latest research and drive evidence-based strategy recommendations to further the care and support of players at all levels.

With injury rates in elite rugby having not increased since 2002 and research and prevention strategies contributing to a reduction in the most severe injuries, World Rugby's commission continues to focus on strategies that can further aid injury prevention, specifically at age-grade level and in developing rugby nations.

World Rugby continues to place player welfare as its number one priority and guided by the best independent experts, the international federation's medical committee has overseen a range of important evidence-based programmes and initiatives that are benefiting players at all levels of the game. 2015-16 highlights include:

  • Ground-breaking tournament player welfare standards adopted by major elite competitions, featuring six mandatory concussion education, management and review modules
  • Temporary replacement for Head Injury Assessment (HIA) adopted in law with reduction of concussed players returning to play following assessment from 56 per cent pre-HIA to four per cent at Rugby World Cup 2015
  • Concussion education modules and guidance for public, players and medics completed by 300,000 in 2016 and used as benchmark in sport, adopted by Scottish parliament (App available via iTunes store)
  • Mandatory accreditation of elite rugby doctors delivering consistency of assessment and treatment for emergency care and concussion assessment and management
  • Introduction of pitch-side and medical room video review technology for head injury identification and assessment (used in over 60 per cent of permanent removal cases)
  • Untoward incident review system to ensure compliance of concussion management – a first for sport
  • Independent concussion consultants advising on return to play following concussive symptoms at Rugby World Cup 2015
  • Player welfare the central consideration behind future law amendments with specialist multi-disciplinary injury-prevention group overseeing largest-ever study of head injury causes in the game
  • Commissioned and published peer-reviewed independent research investigating long-term health impact of rugby participation

With the latest research highlighting the importance of managing individual player training loads as part of a successful injury-prevention programme and World Rugby set to announce outcomes from the biggest-ever study of head injury causes in sport, the 2016 conference will build on positive momentum achieved over the last 12 months.

With rugby participation growing at a record rate in emerging rugby markets with more than a third of the 7.73 million playing population under the age of 18, the delegates will consider potential strategies to further reduce the risk of injury based on extensive research of injuries in the game.

The conference will also consider the latest developments in rugby's strategies in concussion education, prevention, management and research, the success of the tournament player welfare standards programme introduced in 2015 and educational programme best-practice.

World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery said: "Player welfare is World Rugby's number one priority and, guided by leading independent experts, our evidence-based approach is helping protect players at all levels of the game. The medical commission has been a driving force behind player welfare and medical advancements and the conference an invaluable forum to share and consider information from the wider sporting and medical environment.

"Our approach is centered around education and in 2016 alone we have seen an 80 per cent increase in the use of our website which is delivered in 11 languages, 3,100 medics have undertaken our elite immediate care in rugby course, 69,000 people have completed online concussion education and a further 250,000 have undertaken concussion education around the world within our Rugby Ready programme.

Visit World Rugby's player welfare education website here

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