The International Rugby Board has annunced the establishment of a key independent advisory group comprising field experts.
Leading concussion experts Professor Caroline Finch (Injury Prevention Researcher, Federation University Australia), Professor Bob Cantu (Neurosurgeon, Boston University), Dr Willie Stewart (Clinical Neuroscientist, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow University) and Dr Jon Patricios (Sports Physician, South Africa) have begun collaborating with the IRB in key areas.
With a wealth of field-leading knowledge, the group “will use the latest research as a base to advise the IRB on all areas of concussion to ensure that it continues to take a proactive approach to developing and enhancing on-field care, return to play management, implementation guidelines and education programs for community and elite Rugby,” according to the IRB.
IRB Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery said: “Player welfare is the IRB’s number one priority and as a sport Rugby is committed to the continued delivery of best-practice concussion management and education strategies across all levels of the Game.”
“Our approach is to use evidence-based research and expert recommendation and I am delighted that these leading experts have agreed to form this critical group. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise will ensure that Rugby has access to the best-possible advice in the continued drive to enhance concussion management and education in our sport.”
“The group is encouraged by the proactive approach that the IRB has taken and they want to fully contribute and will initially focus on education and strategies to ensure compliance and consistency across our Member Unions when it comes to concussion prevention and management strategies.”
Group member Professor Cantu added: “Concussion is a significant issue for contact sports and I am pleased that the IRB is being proactive in striving to implement education, prevention, research and education policies that will put player welfare first. I am delighted to have been asked to join this group with other leading experts and look forward to making a full contribution in this important area.”
The announcement reinforces the IRB’s commitment to tackling concussion in Rugby to ensure players at all levels are given the best-possible level of care. In 2014 the IRB will be focusing on education and implementing a program that will cover all IRB tournaments as well as core delivery standards for Member Unions.
Last year the IRB launched its Recognize and Remove (#recogniseandremove) education campaign and is working with its national Member Unions to roll out awareness materials across the Game.