Irish Rugby Players Association (IRUPA) and the IRFU have joined forces to develop an on-line training course for Ireland’s professional rugby players to educate them on the importance of concussion awareness and inform them of the medical science informing concussion protocols.
Player welfare is IRUPA’s absolute priority. IRUPA recognises that the concussion protocols implemented within professional rugby are helping to identify and manage suspected incidents of concussion but firmly believe that it is the practical implementation of these protocols is key to player safety. IRUPA feels that there needs to be real buy in from the players and the support staff to ensure the protocols are implemented in full.
IRUPA know that enhancing the understanding of why such protocols have been introduced and raising awareness of the implication of concussion particularly, repeated concussion is crucial in this regard. IRUPA and the IRFU have therefore developed the on-line training course which is now compulsory for all professional players in Ireland.
The training course which, is in video format and available on-line with individual log-ins for players covers all aspects of concussion. As part of the video John Fogarty, who played with Munster, Leinster, Connacht & Ireland, details his own personal experience of dealing with the effects of concussion. Paul O’Connell also features explaining the workings of the Graduated Return to Play Protocols.
IRUPA is delighted to be working with the IRFU and other key stakeholders in rugby in leading a real cultural shift amongst professional players, coaches and medical personnel in relation to peer pressure to play. Research would indicate that significant progress is being made.
Before the introduction of the trial around temporary substitution for suspected concussion, 56% of players remained on the field following concussion but that figure is, according to the British Medical Journal, now less than 12%. It has hoped that this season will see continued improvement in those statistics and that the same standards that have been set and implemented at Rugby World Cup 2015 will carry through to the Guinness Pro 12 & Champions Cup competitions.
IRUPA is also working with the IRFU to provide employment contracts for Ireland’s professional players that ensure players feel supported in every facet of “Graduated Return to Play Protocol” across a range of injuries.
Speaking about the availability of the concussion training, recently retired Leinster Captain Kevin McLaughlin said:
“Player awareness around the whole area of concussion is definitely improving all the time but needs to be consistently reinforced. We need to continually raise awareness and understanding of the effects of concussion with the professional player community.
"This compulsory on-line training course is therefore a very welcome development and can have a significant role in the education process. That players such as Alan Quinlan, John Fogarty and Paul O’Connell have given of their time to contribute and shared their personal stories makes it so much more impactful particularly, for up and coming professionals for whom these players are real role models.”