Further reducing injury risk in age-grade rugby, enhancing the medical framework for developing rugby nations and a review of rugby's concussion protocols and education progress are the headline topics at the seventh World Rugby Medical Commission Conference in London on 12-13 October.
With Rugby World Cup 2015 reaching and inspiring new audiences and operating a ground-breaking player welfare standards programme, the conference will bring together some of the world's leading medical experts and medical representatives from 31 national unions to consider the latest research and identify areas of focus and collaboration.

With injury rates in elite rugby having not increased since 2002 and research and prevention strategies contributing to a reduction in the most severe injuries, World Rugby's commission continues to focus on strategies that can further aid injury prevention, specifically at age-grade level and in developing rugby nations.
World Rugby continues to place player welfare as its number one priority and guided by the best independent experts, the international federation's medical committee has overseen a range of important evidence-based programmes and initiatives that are benefiting players at all levels of the game. 2015 highlights include: 

  • Ground-breaking Rugby World Cup 2015 player welfare standards programme
  • Temporary replacement for Head Injury Assessment into the laws of the game
  • Concussion education modules and guidance for public, players and doctors
  • Mandatory accreditation of elite rugby doctors delivering consistency of assessment and treatment for emergency care and concussion assessment and management
  • Introduction of pitch-side and medical room video review technology for head injury identification and assessment
  • Untoward incident review system to ensure compliance of concussion management – a first for sport
  • Independent concussion consultants to determine return to play following concussive symptoms at Rugby World Cup 2015
  • Player welfare the central consideration behind future law amendments
World Rugby: Player safety the game's top priority
World Rugby: Recognise And Remove


World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Martin Raftery said: "Player welfare is World Rugby's number one priority and, guided by leading independent experts, our evidence-based approach is helping protect players at all levels of the Game. The medical commission has been a driving force behind player welfare and medical advancements and the conference an invaluable forum to share and consider information from the wider sporting and medical environment.
"Our approach begins with education and in 2015 alone we have seen a 66 per cent increase in the use of our www.playerwelfare.worldrugby.org website which is delivered in 11 languages, 242 medics have undertaken the our elite immediate care in rugby course, 15,000 people have undergone online concussion education and a further 250,000 have undertaken concussion education within our Rugby Ready programme.”

Underscoring its commitment to further reduce injuries in a contact sport, World Rugby's number one consideration within its ongoing quadrennial law review is player welfare. A specialist injury prevention group is supporting the law review group by examining the tackle/ruck area to determine any areas of potential change to further enhance the protection of players.

Concussion #RecogniseAndRemove education reaching new parts

Concussion education, prevention, management and research remains World Rugby's number one priority and conference delegates will consider advances over the last 12 months with highlights including:         

  • Hawk-Eye technology introduction for head impact identification and permanent removal
  • Six concussion elements within the tournament standards programme operating at RWC 2015 and across World Rugby events, including mandatory education and accreditation of medics and independent concussion expert consultation before return to play
  • Independent expert panel guiding World Rugby's approach
  • Launch of public guidance materials being used by other sports and public bodies
  • Launch of the World Rugby #RecogniseAndRemove concussion education App
  • 15,000 medics, players, coaches and public completing World Rugby's online concussion education modules
  • Initial research into long-term cognitive health of rugby players and further ongoing research

The Medical Commission Conference follows the successful inaugural Rugby Science Network Live events in Bath and Cape Town last month, where 700 participants from 30 nations discussed and considered and evaluated the latest rugby medical research.  

Editors Notes
For more information on World Rugby's player welfare strategies visit www.playerwelfare.worldrugby.org