Rugby Australia to review schoolboy safety protocols

by Sam Phillips

Rugby Australia will review its schoolboy rugby safety protocols after an alarming spike in serious injuries suffered in Queensland's GPS competition.

Four schoolboys have suffered serious injuries through the first four weeks of the season, Nudgee College boarder Alexander Clark suffering a spinal cord injury on Saturday after Gregory Terrace's Conor Tweedy and Toowoomba Grammar School's James Kleidon and Ollie Bierhoff were injured in the three weeks prior.

Clark suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of a freak accident while scoring a try for Nudgee's 15Bs against Ipswich Grammar, the match called off as soon as the seriousness of the injury was realised.

He was rushed to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital and has remained ICU in the days since, an update on Monday revealing the PNG born teen had shown early positive signs ahead of a long road to recovery.

"Alexander Clark and Conor Tweedy are both in a stable condition and there are some positive signs but they are facing a rather long road to recovery," Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle said.Raelene Castle has spoken to media after the fourth serious schoolboy injury in as many weeks. Photo: Walmsley"I just spoke to Alexander's family recently and his father was adamant it was a freak accident.

"There was absolutely nothing to do with the injury that had anything to do with rugby as a game.

"Alexander can't wait to get back to playing rugby and he sees it as one of those incidents that are just a freak accident.

"That isn't enough for us and we will review it but the families are very supportive and engaged."

The injuries are the first of their kind in schoolboy rugby since 2007 and Castle stressed that each of the four incidents had occurred in separate scenarios.

"We will be reviewing each of these cases individually because they were all in separate incidences either in the game or in training.

"There is no consistent theme that has caused any of the injuries.Raelene Castle says Rugby Australia will review safety measures. Photo: Getty Images"Once we have got that review and that feedback back, we will then look at the outcomes of those reviews and whether they require us to make changes to any individual procedures that are in place."

Castle pointed to the review of over 5000 schoolboy scrums as one safety measure being taken by the national administrator to ensure safety remains top priority.

"We have found no major issues in the coaching or the technique of that scrum," she said.

"I'm not sure that we will find anything specifically as the four injuries happened over four different areas and aspects of the game.

"The reality is that it's been 10 years since we have had a significant injury in schoolboy rugby and the fact that we have had a cluster in GPS is something that we are concerned about and will review."

Any concerns will be subsequently rolled out around the country but for now, Castle's top priority is ensuring the families of the boys appropriately looked after.

"I have spoken to all four of the families and guaranteed that they not only have the support of Queensland Rugby Union but also the support of Rugby Australia," Castle said.

"All the families greatly appreciated that support and that the rugby community has come in behind them."