The blue card - concussion



  • All adult rugby games in the 14 largest Provincial Rugby Unions will be showing concussion the Blue Card this season, in a move by New Zealand Rugby (NZR) to further enhance player welfare.
    
    The Blue Card Concussion Initiative means referees can issue a Blue Card to a player suspected of receiving an on-field concussion during a game. After receiving a Blue Card, the player must leave the field of play and can’t return until they have completed a series of mandatory steps, including a three-week stand down from training and playing.
    

    A mandatory 3-week stand down, because a referee suspects that a player suffered an on-field concussion during a game? Isn't that a bit odd? A ref is not a medical professional, even if they will be trained to recognise the signs of suspected concussion. Can players/teams appeal or something like that (for example, by submitting a medical certificate from neurologist stating that they have not suffered a concussion)?

    Anderson said the Blue Card Concussion Initiative applied to all adult rugby within the Mitre 10 Cup Provincial Unions, and they can also choose to use the Blue Card in age grade rugby. Heartland Unions were also encouraged to take part, and three have opted to do so. 
    
    He said some Provincial Unions have implemented the Blue Card into secondary school competitions.
    

    By the way, note the last paragraph below:

    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
    
    Please note in all professional rugby in New Zealand a trained medical doctor is present during matches to assess head knocks and suspected concussion. Therefore, the Blue Card does not apply.
    


  • This is a massive overreach. Why bother with gaining competent medical clearance if you still need to sit out three weeks? Particularly if you didn't have a concussion to begin with.



  • I have an issue with this initiative.
    I think that concussion is best managed by the team staff with strong guidance from the NZRU on protocols as currently happens.
    I get that it leaves a lot of room for teams to play the system if they want to but the vast majority will put player welfare first.
    My son had two head knocks in prem club. On neither occasion was he KOd, just took a heavy knock. Both times his management team pulled him from the field and made him follow the protocols of medical clearance before training or playing again.
    My feeling is that with a blue card system such as this there will be a reliance on the ref puling the card rather than the sideline voluntarily removing the player.
    I can see how it would be good to have a formal recording of a concussion to ensure that stand downs are adhered to properly but this could be done after the game surely? The ref already has the ability to ensure someone leaves the field for incident he clearly sees. A card system adds nothing except a reliance on the ref to spot everything and act.