RFL announces new guidelines to protect players from long-term damage


The RFL has enhanced the measures designed to ensure the long-term safety of all rugby league players by amending its policies on serious head injuries.

As well as the existing guidelines on dealing with serious head injuries – which includes removing a player if he showing any signs of the symptoms associated with concussion or similar head trauma – the RFL is implementing a strict protocol across the whole game.

RFL chief medical officer Dr Chris Brooke

RFL chief medical officer Dr Chris Brooke

The amendments have been introduced following a comprehensive review led by the RFL’s chief medical officer, Dr Chris Brooks (pictured), to ensure that practice within the game is in line with both current best practice in sport and the 2012 Zurich Consensus.

“Whilst there has not been a verified case of concussion having long term effects in rugby league, we do take these medical finding very seriously,” said Dr Brooks.

“Medical evidence suggests that repeated concussion may cause disability in some shape or form during later life and the new policies will ensure that the welfare of rugby league players remains paramount.

“The RFL has a long and proud history of prioritising player safety and so it is important that protocols are introduced to minimise the risk of long-term damage.”

In line with a number of other sports’ governing bodies around the globe, the RFL will utilise SCAT3 technology, a standardised tool for evaluating injured athletes for concussion, which features tests on a player’s verbal and motor responses.

Any player who suffers a serious head injury during a game also has to be reported to the RFL within 24 hours of the incident, so that the player can then be monitored closely, allowing ultimately for a safe return to the playing field.

“Previously the guidelines we had concerning concussion dealt with situations in the same way that the ruling suggests,” said Dr Brooks. “The only difference is that those guidelines have now become a strict protocol for medical staff to follow.

“As the medical report outlines, long term exposure to head injuries can have serious effects in the future. Enforcing this protocol could prevent life changing injuries, which is something that obviously both the players and the sport want to avoid.

“Included with the new ruling are steps and milestones that a player suffering from the injury will have to undertake before being allowed to return for another game. These steps will be enforced by the RFL.”