World Rugby agrees to change concussion protocols, with 12-day break to become standard

The vast majority of elite-level rugby union players diagnosed with a concussion will be unable to return to play for 12 days following changes introduced by the sport’s world governing body from July 1.

World Rugby is following the recommendations of an independent concussion task force after a review of the latest scientific evidence.

Current regulations allow players who fail a head injury assessment during a game to be back on the pitch seven days later if they follow return-to-play protocols.

While that may still be the case for some, provided they get approval from an independent concussion consultant, the majority will be out of action for five more days.

The updated criteria used to judge how quickly players can return after showing obvious concussion symptoms now includes their history of concussions.

Those new criteria will be in place for next month’s men’s Test series which will feature clashes including England v The Wallabies in Australia and Ireland v The All Blacks in New Zealand.

They will also affect the Wallaroos’ next fixtures, with Australia set to face New Zealand in two Tests in August.

Michaela Leonard catches the ball with one hand after being lifted by a group of other players
The Wallaroos will face New Zealand in Christchurch and Adelaide in August.(Getty Images: World Rugby/Fiona Goodall)

“It will be a new mindset for coaches and players,” said World Rugby chief medical officer Dr Éanna Falvey.

“Our approach means that it is now extremely likely that a player diagnosed with a concussion will not play in their team’s next game.

“World Rugby firmly believes that the scientific evidence supports our protocols, but we are constantly monitoring and testing them to ensure they are suitable for modern play.

“We recognize that there are differences in concussion symptoms and concussion history, and this process allows us to further protect elite players by individualizing their rehabilitation.

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