Premiership Rugby are set to trial the use of a 'concussion bin' and extended powers for the Television Match Official during this season.
Premiership Rugby will trial the use of a 'concussion bin' and extended powers for the Television Match Official during the upcoming season.
If a team doctor or referee suspects that a player may have suffered concussion during an Aviva Premiership match, that player will be required to leave the field for five minutes to undergo cognitive tests.
If that initial suspicion is confirmed in a pitch-side assessment, the concussed player will not be allowed to return and the temporary substitution will be made a permanent one.
The system known as Pitch Side Concussion Assessment was developed by an IRB working group consisting of experienced international team physicians, including Dr Simon Kemp and RFU Community Medical Director Dr Mike England, a player representative, a French neurosurgeon and an Australian physician with a PhD in concussion.
Rugby already operates a 'blood bin' system, which allows players to be temporarily replaced to have a cut attended to.
“Being able to temporarily remove the player from the field will allow medical practitioners to perform a more sophisticated assessment than presently and better decisions to be made,” said Kemp.
The Premiership have also volunteered to trial a greater use of video technology, which extends the TMO's input to more than just the grounding of the ball.
The trial will start with the London Double Header at Twickenham Stadium on September 1, when London Wasps take on Harlequins and Saracens host London Irish.
The trials have been developed by the IRB over the past six months in collaboration with Premiership Rugby and the Rugby Football Union and form part of a wider strategy devised by the IRB aimed at player welfare and enhancing the role of the TMO.
“We have a reputation for innovation and this is another example of how both Premiership Rugby and the RFU is the forefront of the game's development,” said Phil Winstanley, Rugby Director at Premiership Rugby.
“We volunteered to be involved in both trials. The TMO trial in live televised games allows us to maintain the integrity of our competition by ensuring that the match officials are given the utmost support in getting crucial decisions right.
“We are extremely mindful about ensuring that we achieve a balance between protecting the integrity of the game and impacting on the dynamic nature of our sport by creating too many stoppages in play.
“This will be closely managed, with a thorough research programme undertaken by Premiership Rugby and the RFU.”
The RFU's head of professional referee revelopment, Ed Morrison, is excited about the changes.
“The modern game is fast-paced and action-packed and it is important that our officials are equipped with the best tools to ensure that sometimes critical incidents are observed and acted upon,” he said.
“The referee is in charge of the game but him and his assistants to be able to draw on the TMO in such circumstances will help us maintain the high standards of officiating that we have in the Aviva Premiership.”