10 Mar 2017

Club rugby gets blue card for concussion

7:55 am on 10 March 2017

Referees will be able to send club rugby players off for concussion tests this season.

The 14 largest provincial unions are introducing a blue card for concussion, whereby referees who suspect a player has suffered an on-field concussion during a game send the player off.

The player can't return until they have completed a series of mandatory steps, including a three-week stand down from training and playing.

A blue card will mean a mandatory three week stand down for a player.

A blue card will mean a mandatory three week stand down for a player. Photo: Supplied

The Blue Card concussion initiative began in Northland in 2014 and New Zeland Rugby's head of community rugby Brent Anderson said the positive results and feedback has encouraged them to introduce the programme around the country.

"This is the first year we have made it compulsory for adult grades and over time we would like to see it become the standard for the community game," he said.

"Implementing the blue card requires a collective effort. Referees need to be trained to better recognise the signs of concussion, coaches and players need to support the mandatory stand-down period, and local medical professionals need to help us record, track and report on the injury or suspected injury.

The intiative applies to all adult rugby within the Mitre 10 Cup Provincial Unions, and unions can also choose to use the Blue Card in age grade rugby.

Anderson says Heartland Unions were also encouraged to take part, and three have opted to do so while some unions have also implemented card into secondary school competitions.

What Happens when a Blue Card is issued:

When a player is issued with a Blue Card by the referee, they must leave the game, and can't return to play in that match.

The player must then:

Rest until there are no on-going symptoms

Complete the minimum stand down period (21 days for adults, 23 days for under

19 players)

Undertake the Graduated Return to Play Protocol

Obtain medical clearance to return to play