The International Rugby Board (IRB) has optioned further trials of their newly-developed concussion procedure.
Following a successful run in IRB age-grade competitions, the floor has now been opened to member unions to use the Pitch-Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) in domestic tournaments.
Under the procedure, a player suspected of having concussion will be allowed to leave the pitch for five minutes to be assessed – with a temporary replacement taking the field as in the case of a blood bin.
Referees, independent matchday doctors and team medical staff will be expected to make the call on the removal of any player they suspect to be concussed.
“Once that command is made, the referee will indicate that the player is leaving the field of play with a hand signal where he touches his head three times,” an IRB statement read.
“Once the player has been removed from the field of play and temporarily replaced, the team and independent match doctors will proceed through an IRB pitch-side concussion assessment procedure incorporating standardised questions and observations.
“If the player fails any aspect of the assessment and has relevant symptoms he will not be able to return to the field of play and the substitution becomes permanent.”
The IRB has also entered into a new study, along with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and Auckland University of Technology (AUT), to determine the long-term effects of head injuries after time playing professional rugby.
The issue has been highlighted in recent years by Australia fly-half Berrick Barnes – who was forced to miss a large chunk of last season due to issues arising from repeated head knocks – and the retirement of former Ireland hookers John Fogarty and Bernard Jackman.