IRFU believes concussion protocols will be in place for 2014 Six Nations
Unions hope to sway Scotland to back Pitch Side Concussion Assessment tool
Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll is treated by Dr Eanna Falvey during the Autumn Series match against New Zealand last month. Photograph: Inpho
The IRFU believes
protocols for concussion will be adopted ahead of the 2014 Six Nations Championships. To date the Six Nations, Heineken Cup and RaboDirect Pro12 competitions have not adopted the International Rugby Board’s Pitch Side Concussion Assessment tool (PSCA), which allows doctors to examine players suspected of having concussion during a match.
Using the PSCA a player is removed from the game, examined and assessed. The examination is seen as a triage-type treatment and not a diagnostic tool.
There has been some resistance to using the PSCA and it is believed the Scottish Rugby Union is at odds with the other five unions about its introduction next year.
There is a Six Nations meeting later this month, where the other unions will endeavour to persuade Scotland that the PSCA should be added to the list of measures used to protect player’s welfare.
Dr Barry O’Driscoll, who resigned from an IRB medical committee over the issue, is one of a number of medical experts who are uncomfortable with the measures as they believe they do not adequately safe guard players.
Dr James Robson, a leading doctor with the SRU and the Lions will be advising the Scottish union on the matter.
However Dr Rod McLoughlin, who yesterday launched the IRFU’s guide to concussion awareness and management for amateur rugby players in Ireland, believes the IRB protocols will be in place for this season’s tournament.
“We are hopeful for the next Six Nations and we may be going ahead even if some nations do not agree,” said Dr McLoughlin.
“It is highly likely that the Pitchside Concussion Assessment (PSCA) tool and all the other things will be in place for the next Six Nations.
“All I will say is that there is one nation that isn’t agreeing, that didn’t agree last year and I don’t think it is appropriate for me to name names or point the finger.
“I am as confident as I can be in terms of how we can influence that. We are also looking to propose these things for the Rabo Pro12 and the Heineken Cup because they don’t exit in those competitions either.”
The IRFU believe that cultural change in players combined with greater medical awareness and expertise will bring down the numbers of players who compete with concussion.
For concussed amateur player’s under-20 a 23-day (three weekends) minimum time out is recommended.
Professional players have different protocols as they receive better medical attention.
At the end of the 2010/11 season researchers looked at 172 professional players and their attitudes to concussion. About 45 per cent of them reported that they had suffered a concussion and around the same number stayed on the pitch.
When asked why that was, around 90 per cent answered that they didn’t consider concussion to be important. Around 70 to 80 per cent said they didn’t consider themselves to be concussed. Recently the professional players’ union IRUPA undertook a questionnaire following concussion seminars in November.
“In that study 80 per cent of the players talked about their concern around concussion,” said Dr McLoughlin.