HARLEQUINS director of rugby Conor O’Shea insists that coaches as well as players must sit up and take note after major changes to the way concussion is managed in this country were announced.
A joint venture between Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Rugby Players Association (RPA) has produced a new set of processes designed to improve understanding on the treatment of concussion.
The first element focuses on enhancing awareness and education of the injury through a compulsory online module to be taken by all registered professional players, coaches and referees.
The interactive programme lays out what concussion is and how to recognise the symptoms alongside the consequences of the injury and how to manage it effectively.
Failure to complete the module will initially result in a fine with the added option of suspending a player, coach or official until they have taken it.
O’Shea is excited about the changing approach to the way we deal with head injuries in this country.
“It’s one of those hidden injuries but potentially it is one of the most destructive. I was approached by the RFU and Premiership Rugby to be part of the working group, purely to have that coaching input into how the programme should be evolved. The education of the coaches is just as important as the players.
“The issue is at the front of everyone’s mind at the moment in terms of player welfare and making sure we are looking after them in what is increasingly a more physical sport.
“I was a player myself in ‘the good old days’ when it was more a badge of honour. You got up and you played on but god knows what you were storing up inside you.
“This isn’t about being over-protective, this is about doing what’s right.
“If we can make sure we are all looking after the players in the long run, it’s something we should all buy into and hopefully everyone’s contribution to this will ensure we are a better sport.
“Players have always been at the very centre of the game but our understanding of what goes on behind them has improved.