Planet Rugby

IRB assembles concussion group

10th February 2014 11:38

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Dr Robert Cantu of Boston University

Exper: Prof Cantu

The IRB have put together a star-studded independent advisory panel of field experts to tackle concussion management in rugby.

The issue became a hot topic during 2013 after the governing body implemented a controversial new pitchside concussion assessment, and several high-profile instances of concussed players returning to the action sparked public ire.

The group comprises leading concussion experts Professor Caroline Finch (Injury Prevention Researcher, Federation University Australia), Professor Bob Cantu (Neurosurgeon, Boston University), Dr Willie Stewart (Clinical Neuroscientist, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow University) and Dr Jon Patricios (Sports Physician, South Africa) have begun collaborating with the IRB in key areas.

"Player welfare is the IRB's number one priority and as a sport rugby is committed to the continued delivery of best-practice concussion management and education strategies across all levels of the game," said IRB Chief Medical Officer Dr Martin Raftery.

"Our approach is to use evidence-based research and expert recommendation and I am delighted that these leading experts have agreed to form this critical group. Their wealth of knowledge and expertise will ensure that rugby has access to the best-possible advice in the continued drive to enhance concussion management and education in our sport.

"The group is encouraged by the proactive approach that the IRB has taken and they want to fully contribute and will initially focus on education and strategies to ensure compliance and consistency across our Member Unions when it comes to concussion prevention and management strategies."

"Concussion is a significant issue for contact sports and I am pleased that the IRB is being proactive in striving to implement education, prevention, research and education policies that will put player welfare first," said Professor Cantu.

"I am delighted to have been asked to join this group with other leading experts and look forward to making a full contribution in this important area."

The IRB say they will implement a new educational programme covering all IRB tournaments during 2014.


Concussion; not just in rugby, but across all sports carrying a risk of head injury, is a very serious issue, and one that we at Planet Rugby have given extensive coverage over the past six months. Below are links to several articles chronicling the path the game has taken:

Study shows amateur concussion risk

"Concussion is not trivial"

Concussion expert slams rugby bosses

NFL concussion precedent an omen

PSCA set to stay

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