Following several months of discussion and part of an ongoing process of refining concussion protocols, the key stakeholders assembled on Thursday to collaborate and develop an action plan.
Some of the key outcomes on the way forward were the following:
A commitment was made to provide specialized concussion prevention and rehabilitation training to selected medical practitioners involved at the provincial rugby unions;
To expedite the development of a national network of medical doctors who are well versed in concussion management for rugby union;
To build upon current concussion awareness and education of rugby players, medical doctors, parents, teachers, coaches, match officials and other rugby stakeholders.
Clint Readhead, the Senior Manager of the Medical Department at SA Rugby, said the purpose of the workshop was to identify key interventions that will further enhance best practice in concussion management.
“In modern sport, it is extremely rare for all interested parties with potentially competing interests to work towards jointly improving player welfare standards,” said Readhead.
“Rugby cares, and this is why we are collectively doing something about it and I want to thank the various role players for their valuable contribution towards the success of the gathering.”
Elna van Wyk, Head of Underwriting and Disability Management at Momentum Corporate, praised the collaboration between the different stakeholders.
“As an insurer, we rely on clear, detailed, and definitive medical information to holistically, but also fairly assist with underwriting or claims assessment outcomes,” said Van Wyk.
“As such, a collaborative approach between the insurer, sporting institution and players is vital in effectively assisting in the short- and long-term management of concussion.
“This collaboration with SA Rugby and MyPlayers is certainly an industry first within the South African context, but we are also one of very few insurers globally to have engaged on this level, and we remain committed to leading the industry in this regard.”
Dr Brendan Venter, who played an integral role in helping to set up the workshop said: “Being a medical doctor, a former Springbok, and the dad of a young rugby player, makes this topic very relevant and close to my heart. It is so important that things are done properly, so this workshop is a massive step in tightening up the way we do things.”
Professor Jon Patricios, one of World Rugby and SA Rugby’s specialist concussion consultants, facilitated the workshop.
“It was important that SA Rugby reflected on its concussion protocols with respect to current research and international protocols,” commented Patricios.
“Today’s concussion indaba adds to the already existing concussion resources made freely available by SA Rugby, via its world renowned BokSmart national rugby safety programme.”
David de Villiers represented MyPlayers at the gathering and said: “This particular workshop was the platform for the attending medical professionals, MyPlayers representatives and insurers involved in rugby to voice their concerns, and then to be part of generating solutions. It was significant that MyPlayers was able to provide player input.”