At the forefront of most people’s minds at the moment is Christmas, I said most people, but that of course doesn’t include rugby fans! They have much more import issues to discuss; there has been a lot of talk in meeting rooms in Gloucester recently about players who have been concussed on the field. Should be they leave the field of play immediately, even if they feel and appear to be fine, or should they be allowed to play on?

There are many different points of view on this, so in an attempt to shed some light on the subject, in a pioneering study, Dr Michael J Grey, reader in Motor Neuroscience at the University of Birmingham’s School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, and Tony Belli, a consultant neurosurgeon at the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, are investigating the state of the brain after a concussion using cutting-edge technology funded by the British Medical Association and the National Institute for Health Research.

Suggestions have been made that game of rugby should:
Commission independent research into concussion in rugby and the effect on players of repeated head trauma
Compel all coaches and players to undergo training in concussion awareness and treatment
Introduce independent medical examinations for players suffering more than one concussion in a three-month period
Oblige all clubs and encourage rugby playing schools to display concussion information posters in clubhouses and changing rooms
Introduce penalties for any failure to implement the above

The IRB has been the governing body for rugby union since its formation in 1886,will of course take part in all formal discussions and decisions made.

Rugby union spread from the Home Nations of Great Britain and Ireland, and was absorbed by many of the countries associated with the British Empire. Early exponents of the sport included Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Countries that have adopted rugby union as their de facto national sport include Fiji, Georgia, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Wales. Rugby union is played in over 100 countries across six continents and as of 27 November 2012, the IRB has 100 full members and 18 associate members.