Head knock checks extended under new global laws

by AFP

Players who leave the field of play during a rugby match for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) must stay off the pitch for 10 minutes, the sport's governing body announced on Thursday.

World Rugby said that the new ruling, which will be enforced globally from August 26, would help to "further promote a calm and clinical environment" for the head assessment to take place. 

Their research had indicated the average assessment as to whether the player is concussed -- in what is perhaps the thorniest health issue concerning the sport -- had taken marginally over seven minutes.   

"World Rugby has approved an amendment making it mandatory for players who undertake an off-field screening under the head injury assessment (HIA) protocol not to return before 10 minutes (actual time) have elapsed," read their statement.

"The amendment comes into effect globally from 26 August and applies to all participating elite adult rugby competitions.

"It amends the previous time stipulation, which included no minimum requirement.

Matt Toomua came off early with concussion. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley"With the latest data indicating that the average time for the screening to be undertaken by a team or independent doctor being a shade over seven minutes, the introduction of a fixed time will further promote a calm, clinical environment for assessment without rush or risk of screening time falling well under the average completion time.

"The adjustment will also assist match management."

According to World Rugby, 92% of players with concussion have been correctly diagnosed and removed altogether from the field of play in the 22 competitions where it is used.

Prior to its introduction in 2012 World Rugby says just 44% of players were correctly diagnosed to be suffering from concussion.

"The HIA process is playing a major role in changing culture and promoting best practice as outlined by the data," said Dr Martin Raftery, World Rugby's Chief Medical Officer.

"However, we continue to strive for evidence-based improvements and the move from a maximum of 10 minutes off-field for the HIA screening to a fixed 10 minutes will further promote a thorough and calm assessment."