IRFU increases educational approach to concussion in amateur and under-age game

Concussion guidelines will already be in place when school competitions begin next month

IRFU Warns of Dangers of Concussion and Dispels Myth of a “Knock to The Head”

IRFU Warns of Dangers of Concussion and Dispels Myth of a “Knock to The Head”


With the School’s Senior Cups due to begin later this month and early February the IRFU’s guidelines and instruction on concussion in amateur and under-age rugby have already begun to kick in.

Launched last month, over 500 medical and non-medical personnel from clubs and schools across the country have attended courses that are set to continue as the IRFU’s educational approach to the issue continues.

It is now also mandatory for anyone seeking coaching accreditation to complete a comprehensive International Rugby Board (IRB) concussion module before a he or she can be accredited at even mini-rugby level. The IRFU have also introduced “hands on” concussion seminars as mandatory for those seeking coaching accreditation for children from 13 years of age upwards, to ensure they receive practical training about the injury.

The new guidelines address amateur rugby in the country with the professional game adhering to a different set of protocols. The qualitative difference in approach is because professional rugby is more closely medically supervised, while the players are exclusively adults.

Another key element in the union’s treatment of the injury is the extension of time out of the game for players under 20 years old. The IRFU have a more conservative approach for under-age players than that of the IRB and from this month any rugby player under the age of 20 who suffers a concussion should be automatically removed from play for a minimum or 23 days. The critical element in that time frame is that the extra days out ensures that it includes three match-day weekends. Any adult amateur player over 20 will be removed for a minimum of 21 days, which must include two weekends. These minimum rest periods go beyond the latest recommendations of the IRB, which for teenagers from 16 to 19 years old is 12 days.

The changes come in the wake of the tragic loss in Ireland of schoolboy Ben Robinson exactly two years ago next week as well as a greater awareness of the dangerous subtleties of the injury. The 14-year-old, who died following a series of collisions in a school match was the first fatality confirmed in a coroner’s report as a result of undiagnosed concussion in either Britain or Ireland.

To assist with the education of players and parents in particular, the IRFU have produced a Guide to Concussion in Rugby Union to help people recognise the signs and symptoms, educate them on what action to take if they suspect a player has a concussion and to ensure they understand the importance of return to play protocols.

This month over 30,000 copies of the guide will be sent to clubs and schools to provide what the union say is a very clear concussion message. Stop. Inform. Rest. Return.