Canberra and Newcastle will be the testing grounds for a new concussion blue card, that will enforce stricter regulations on concussed players.
The blue card gives a referee the ability to send a player off if they are showing signs of concussion, forcing them out of the match.
Once a player has been given a blue card, they must follow a series of steps before being cleared to play, including at least 24 hours rest, a minimum stand down period of 12 days for adults and 19 for children, a graduated return to play program and a medical clearance.
This concept is not new, with New Zealand’s ITM Cup adopting the blue card on a permanent basis after a trial.
The system is aimed at junior and senior clubs, which don't’ have the same medical resources that a professional club would.
Under ARU guidelines, adults would be stood down from training for 12 days, and children would sit out for 19 days after a concussion diagnosis.
This weekend’s John I Dent Cup will be the first in the trial and ARU chief medical officer Warren McDonald said the moves were focused on layer welfare.
“The blue card trial is just one of the ARU’s many initiatives to improve player welfare and safety in our game, and follows over two years of extensive research on concussion and concussion management from World Rugby down through each nation,” he said.
“Our concussion guidelines are there to ensure that everyone in our game is educated on how to manage concussion and ultimately the aim is to gather feedback from the upcoming trials and work towards rolling out the blue card system nationally across our grassroots competitions at both junior and senior level.
“The blue card is a visual cue that a player has a suspected concussion and they will be removed from the field of play and won’t be coming back that day.
“It’s about recognising and removing a player that is suffering the effects of a head knock.”