This protocol aims to provide a structured approach to dealing with potentially serious and/or catastrophic injuries in rugby union. Every coach and referee will be educated in the DVD workshops on how to use this protocol effectively. It also brings a level of accountability to rugby personnel at matches in properly managing serious injuries.

The protocol provides step by step instructions and details the club, school, team, provincial union and the South African Rugby Union’s responsibilities. The protocol also dictates that the home team’s responsible person, coach or referee needs to telephone the BokSmart Spineline helpline. The emergency medical service provider, ER24, will immediately notify the BokSmart Serious Injury Case Manager (SICM) to the injury.

The SICM ensures that all relevant parties are informed with regards to any serious and/or catastrophic injury associated with the game, and makes key decisions regarding the injured player’s management en route to a suitable medical facility. Following the incident, both the referee and coach have to independently submit a completed “Serious Injury Report Form” to the BokSmart SICM within 48 hours.

The SICM will in the interim ensure that appropriate care and management of the player has been provided. The SICM then performs a standardised follow-up assessment with the injured player, coach/referee and/or witnesses to better understand how the incident could have been prevented. Ultimately the information gathered by this process will help make the game safer for future participants in the game.