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Sports Injuries

Updated 18 September 2015

Rugby injuries: new approach recommended

An integrated new approach to rugby injuries is recommended by Sarfu (The South African Football Union) to decrease the incidence of rugby injuries.

An integrated new approach to rugby injuries, research into the causes of the injuries, education of referees and coaches are some of the steps recommended by Sarfu (The South African Football Union) to decrease the incidence of rugby injuries.

Sarfu has recommended a new approach in identifying the causes of causes of rugby injuries as well as the education of referees and coaches.

The growing number of serious rugby injuries amongst schoolboys this year, has led to new recommendations being made.

Recommendations of the workshop were announced by Sarfu and include the following:

- An integrated approach towards identifying the causes of serious neck and spinal injuries, and addressing measures to prevent them. Through the integrated approach, all stakeholders will work together and share ideas.

- Research will be conducted to determine the circumstances under which the injuries occur.

- Sarfu plans to embark on an initiative to educate referees and coaches on preventative measures, through clubs and schools. Sarfu's 14 Provinces will, in future, play a more active role in education, and will be expected to report such injuries to the national body.

- A qualification and accreditation system for coaches was recommended, to ensure that only those with proper training will play a part in the game.

- First Aid at school and club levels will also receive proper attention.

- The Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Fund will intensify its efforts to educate the public, players and parents on how they can benefit from their services. The Non-Governmental Organisation is Sarfu's social responsibility beneficiary, which receives more than R1 million in direct funding annually.

- In rural areas, where most of the injuries have occurred, plans will be put in place to cement relations between Sarfu and the Provincial and local governments.

Doctor urges all stakeholders to take responsibility
"We encourage the will to win, but not at the cost of severe injuries to the youngsters”, said Sarfu’s Medical Consultant, Dr Ismael Jakoet. “We need to address not just coaches at schoolboy level, elite coaches should also be made aware of guidelines issued by the International Rugby Board, especially on the question of concussions and the non-effectiveness of head gear in preventing these injuries.

"Medical personnel should be encouraged to keep abreast of developments in management of serious injuries. All stakeholders need to take responsibility to prevent serious injuries on the field of play."

The workshop was attended by all relevant stakeholders. The meeting was also attended by the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Ngconde Balfour, who pledged his department's support for initiatives aimed at addressing the matter.

The workshop was also addressed by leading sport scientist Professor Tim Noakes, who said it was critical that research was conducted on the recent incidents, to determine the circumstances and see if they were linked to any particular positions or phase of play.

"From there we will be in a position to identify common factors in the causes of such injuries, and react accordingly."

He said he was encouraged by the enthusiasm showed by the various role players, in addressing the problem.

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Sports Injuries Expert

Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

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