SA Rugby’s Youth Weeks have become a rich source of data and an important testing ground for the union’s medical department, reports THEO GARRUN at Craven Week.
SA Rugby senior medical manager Clint Readhead is at Craven Week in Paarl, keeping an eye on the impressive field-side and medical room operations that have been laid out to ensure that the players receive the best attention.
‘Our concern is for the wellbeing of the players, so my job is, first and foremost, to help in reducing the risk of injury, and if they are hurt, to ensure they get the best possible treatment,’ he told SARugbymag.co.za.
Readhead’s team has been collecting data at the mid-year Youth Weeks since 2012, so they have a pretty good idea of the prevalence of the various types of injuries, and they prepare to deal with those specifically.
‘The one that gets the most attention is concussion, although it is not the most common one,’ he says. ‘Through our BokSmart programme, everyone involved with the game has been educated to see the signs and the mantra is “recognise and remove”. Players suspected of concussion have to leave the field immediately and don’t play again in the tournament. The threshold is low, but we err on the side of caution.’
This is also the second year at which the referees are using a blue card. If they suspect a head injury, they are instructed to show it immediately and the player is removed.
All injuries are recorded on the union’s Footprint system and, if a player was treated at the week at all, the system will not allow his name to appear on a subsequent team sheet until he has been cleared to play by the attending doctor.
The challenge, according to Readhead, is to get this kind of attention to detail to filter down to all the schools around the country.
‘We have a document called ‘Safety in the playing environment‘ on the BokSmart website which outlines the minimum standards required, and we are working on achieving those,’ he said.
Photo: Theo Garrun