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Concussion stand-down time in rugby to be extended to 12 days

  • 22.06.2022
  • EmmaArnold
  • Personal-injury
  • concussion in sport concussion in rugby head injury assessment

The length of time a top-level rugby player has to stand down from play after suffering a head injury has been extended to 12 days.

At present, the World Rugby concussion stand-down period is seven days and has increased by five days.The major change, which is due to be announced next week, will come into force from 1st July.

When a top-level player fails a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), they are currently allowed to play again the following weekend, if they follow the gradual return-to-play protocols. However, the new rules from World Rugby will extend this by five days which matches bodies such as the Rugby Football League and the AFL who recently extended their return-to-play periods earlier this year.

However, the latest changes will require players who fail a Head Injury Assessment, but exhibit no on-pitch symptoms and have no history of concussions, to potentially return in seven days provided they pass all the required tests.

The changes come into force following several reports of former professional players who are now suffering from the effects of early onset dementia. As a result of the news that repeated concussions could lead to long term health problems, it was announced that concussion spotters are to be introduced at the 2022 Football World Cup in Qatar later this year.

Gary Herbert, Partner in personal injury at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

Whilst it is to be welcomed that more protection is to be offered to players suffering concussions, there is a feeling that this change is not being led by the medical evidence but by the reaction of sports commentators and newspapers to exceptional cases.  There have been a number of cases in the last year where commentators have criticised the availability of players in the weeks after a failed head injury assessment or observed concussion and this appears to be a response to that criticism. 

What would be more encouraging would be if World Rugby commissioned and published medical evidence in respect of these risks so that we could see whether the medical evidence is being followed in full.  By way of example club rugby in England has a longer mandatory exclusion period of 19 days (of which 14 days are to be spent resting) for players who will be involved in collisions without the same degree of force that elite players are subject to.  This difference has not been explained by the authorities.

As a rugby dad the welfare of those playing the game is of paramount importance to me. Children and adults playing the sport they love should not have to bear the risk of long term damage to their brains.

Gary has previously commented on the issue of concussion in sport with this blog here on how better assessing of head injuries is needed during football matches.

Gary Herbert is a Partner in personal injury here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about a head injury in sport or indeed any other aspect of personal injury and wish to speak to Gary or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Gary directly.

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