Medical experts from all over the world will meet in Dublin next week to focus on the continued commitment between the IRB and Unions to reduce the risk of injury in Rugby.
The 2012 IRB Medical Commission Conference will take place from November 26-28 with a record number of Rugby's top physicians gathering to renew their collective commitment to tackling player welfare issues and promote best-practice techniques that will ultimately benefit Rugby players at all levels.
Thirty-six Unions will be represented by almost 100 delegates at the fourth annual event, with 16 team doctors attending from both hemispheres, many of whom will be fresh from the November international series.
This provides one of the best opportunities to date for knowledge transfer between medical experts involved in the game of Rugby.
IRB committed to player welfare
IRB Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery said: "We have a fully collaborative approach to developing medical policies that are designed to benefit Rugby players at both elite and community level. We are truly committed to ensuring that the welfare of our players is the central consideration."
"It is a misconception that injury rates are increasing in the sport. It is true that players are becoming bigger, stronger and faster and that there are more contact or collision incidents in the average match, but all the data suggests that injury rates have not increased since 2002. Indeed they have actually returned to levels comparable to before the Game went professional in 1995."
"However, we must keep driving medical policies forward in order that we provide an environment where the 5.5 million men, women and children currently participating in Rugby can have access to the best-possible training and education techniques in order that we can continue to tackle the areas that can lead to injury. The IRB and our Unions are totally committed to that process."
Among the topics up for discussion will be the role of the match day doctor, pitch side concussion assessment (PSCA) protocols, pre-participation screening including cardiac screening policy as well as the implementation of courses for doctors at elite level and sports first aid.
Injury rates in elite Rugby have returned to levels comparable before the Game went professional in 1995. This key conference will look to build on the solid progress driven by outcomes of the three previous annual conferences, with delegates considering the latest research, trends and medical developments in a bid to put players first.
The approach enables focus areas to be relevant and tackle topical issues as they happen.
Building on previous conferences
The conference has been the springboard for a suite of medical and player welfare policies that are already benefitting the Game:
- Concussion guidelines developed in line with Zurich Consensus Statement
- Online concussion education programme can be found here
- Catastrophic injury reporting - standardised worldwide register
- Best practice Game preparation techniques can be found here
A two-day training workshop to promote best-practice emergency pitch-side care for potential medical educators will be run on November 28-30. This new initiative, a central recommendation from the 2011 conference, will further the dissemination of best-practice techniques across IRB Unions that will be critical in the immediate treatment of players.
It is understood that nearly 50 per cent of injuries are potentially controllable with training injuries and non-contact match injuries contributing factors. Education is key and that is why the IRB's Rugby Ready online and practical resource is at the forefront of educating players, coaches, match officials and administrators on how best to prepare for Rugby.