Australian rugby to trial more stringent ‘blue card’ system for concussion

THE AUSTRALIAN RUGBY Union (ARU) is set to trial a ‘blue card’ system in club competitions to help manage concussion and improve safety during matches.

Competitions in the Australian Capital Territory and Newcastle will be the first to trial the initiative, with on-field referees having the authority to issue a blue card to any player displaying signs of concussion, starting this weekend in the ACT’s John I Dent Cup.

Under the system, if a player receives a blue card, they must leave the field of play for the remainder of the match and cannot return to rugby until they have completed a series of steps designed to ensure they make a full recovery.

A player would then be stood down until they complete a mandatory stand-down period of 12 days for adults and 19 for players under 18.

They would be required to undertake a graduated return to play program and obtain a medical clearance to make a comeback to training and playing.

“The Blue Card trial is just one of the ARU’s many initiatives to improve player welfare and safety in our game, and follows over two years of extensive research on concussion and concussion management from World Rugby down through each nation,” ARU chief medical officer Warren McDonald said in a statement.

“Our concussion guidelines are there to ensure that everyone in our game is educated on how to manage concussion and ultimately the aim is to gather feedback from the upcoming trials and work towards rolling out the Blue Card system nationally across our grassroots competitions at both junior and senior level.

“The Blue Card is a visual cue that a player has a suspected concussion and they will be removed from the field of play and won’t be coming back that day. It’s about recognising and removing a player that is suffering the effects of a head knock.”

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