Refs armed with blue card

RUGBY

CHRIS COGDALE
chris.cogdale@age.co.nz

Spectators at rugby matches this season will notice referees brandishing a new card.

As well as their yellow and red cards, used for disciplinary transgressions, referees are now armed with a blue card, to be used when they believe a player is concussed.

New Zealand Rugby has introduced the blue card to deal with concussion and is mandatory across all levels of rugby throughout New Zealand.

“The blue card is a clear indication that the referee suspects a concussion, and it starts a whole chain of reports,” Wairarapa-Bush Rugby Union community liaison officer Peter Debney said on Tuesday.

“New Zealand Rugby medical adviser Tash McKay visited the region last week and spent 90 minutes going over the protocols with 22 referees.”

“There are four key requirements. First, the referees recognise the symptoms of a potential concussion, and second, removes the player from the game. That is followed by a planned recovery process, and finally a return to play” he said.

Debney said the recovery process sets down some strict guidelines, with adult players facing a 21-day stand-down and a 23-day stand-down for players under 19.

“The first 14 days, an adult player must have complete rest from physical activity. The next two days, the player may take part in light aerobic exercise. After that, they may gradually introduce running over the next three days but with no physical contact. Finally, the player can return to full contact once a full medical clearance is given.

“They are designed to have the players fully-recovered and avoid life-long complications. This is a requirement being put in place nationally by NZ Rugby for the safety and welfare of every player participating in our game,” Debney said.

“It would be great to think they, like a number of us, will be around in 20 to 50 years’ time, and able to retell those stories of days gone by.”

The WBRU is also making it easy for fans to track the results of their favourite teams.

The ‘MyRugby’ app allows people to get results of games featuring their club, school or representative teams soon after the final whistle blows.

Team officials will also load their team lists on to the app, for the referees to view, instead of paper form.

“The MyRugby App is going to be a fantastic tool for our members. Anything which makes it easier for our players and parents to access information has got to be good. It’s been long-awaited,” WBRU chief executive Tony Hargood said

“Anyone who downloads the free MyRugby App will have visibility of upcoming and previous fixtures, along with times, dates and location for those fixtures for the teams they follow. A user can follow multiple teams from multiple clubs” he said.

Hargood said the response to the app has been positive after the first week of club rugby.

“It’s gone really well. The premiers were 100 per cent perfect and the Senior Reserves were pretty good. I also had four or five people tell me how good it was.”

Hargood said the app showing a start time of 3.35pm instead of 2.35pm can be put down to daylight saving time and that won’t be repeated for this Saturday’s games.