Premiership Rugby add an independent doctor to matchdays

Premiership Rugby have announced a new player-welfare initiative for the 2019/20 season, as Independent Matchday Doctors will be in place at all Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Premiership Rugby Cup, and European home matches. This new initiative has been funded by the clubs and has been back backed by key stakeholders from Premiership Rugby, the RFU, the RPA and World Cup.

What is the role of the Matchday Doctor?

A matchday doctor is responsible for all decisions regarding replacement for blood and head injuries. Matchday doctors oversee the application of the new Head Injury Assessment protocol aimed at identifying and preventing concussion.

They also work in collaboration with the team doctors and medical staff to support head injury decision-making throughout a match.

Why is it being brought it in?

Player welfare is a huge issue being tackled in the world of rugby and Premiership Rugby believes this is the next step after the introduction of Hawkeye. Independent matchday doctors and Hawkeye have both been introduced to help ensure the identification of head injuries and support the new HIA process.

Independent matchday doctors have been operating on the international stage for a while now, this step helps take the domestic game in England closer in line with best practice and international standard, which has seen great success of the independent matchday doctors.

The introduction of an independent matchday doctor will aid the new HIA process, with a HIA having a 10-minute minimum and maximum time limit to be conducted. With this new addition on matchdays more HIA’s will be able to take place simultaneously.

Finally, the extra doctor will take pressure off club doctors, as the addition of the independent matchday doctor means there will be an extra set of eyes and ears for club doctors to collaborate with when making decision regarding head injuries.

Leicester Tiger’s Medical team.

How will it work?

For all Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Premiership Rugby Cup, and European home matches there will be a team doctor, a matchday pitchside video reviewer and an immediate care doctor who will be appointed by the home team to support and undertake emergency care.

Now in addition, there will be an independent matchday doctor who will sit alongside the matchday pitchside video reviewer and hawkeye technician. As a team, they will oversee head injury management, providing high-quality care to players.

The decision for a HIA to take place and subsequently if a player can return to play will sit with the independent matchday doctor but this decision will always be a collaborative and supportive process. All decision will be finalised after a discussion between the club doctor and the matchday doctor, as they review the video together.

A HIA can be carried out by multiple individuals, pre-match meetings will be held to decide whether the club doctor wants to carry out the HIA’s under the observation of the matchday doctor or if they choose to delegate the HIA’s to the independent matchday doctor.

Matt Cross, Premiership Rugby’s research and development manager said:

“This new initiative continues the evolution of our player welfare strategy, following on from the introduction of the Head Injury Assessment and our use of the Hawkeye system to help better identify injuries during matches.

“Our clubs are at the forefront of player welfare initiatives and with us, will continue to drive world-class standards in the care of our players.”

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