More advanced sideline concussion tests will be applied in Super Rugby following SANZAR’s decision to follow the lead of the International Rugby Board.
After consultation with medical officers from the Australian, New Zealand and South African rugby unions, SANZAR has implemented the enhanced Head Injury Assessment (HIA), introduced by the IRB on 1 June to supersede the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA) tool.
The HIA will be applied to Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship with immediate effect having been introduced during the southern hemisphere’s June Tests.
Two components of the pitch-side concussion checks have been expanded with the memory test strengthened and the balance test altered, improving the information teams and doctors have available when deciding if and when players are safe to return to action.
The advancements come at a time when the potentially devastating long-term effects of concussion are front and centre in Australian sport.
Wests Tigers NRL star Liam Fulton is under pressure to hang up his boots after being concussed four times this season.
SANZAR, the controlling body of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship Test series, says player welfare is paramount.
“From the moment the IRB announced the introduction of the Head Injury Assessment, we made it a priority to take steps that would lead to the enhanced protocol being introduced to SANZAR competitions as soon as possible,” SANZAR chief Greg Peters said on Friday.
“Player welfare is a primary concern for our sport and we are therefore supportive of the IRB’s introduction of the HIA which will be in effect at Super Rugby from the resumption of the competition this weekend following the June Test window.”