It is required that Carolinas Geographic Rugby Union (“CGRU”) clubs provide an Athletic Trainer, EMT, Paramedic, or other certified medical staff member for all matches. This is important for the safety and well being of all players involved in the match and a requirement of the USA Rugby insurance policy. It is also a requirement that clubs have an Emergency Action Plan in place in the event of emergencies.
If any club cannot fulfill these requirements, the referees have been instructed to cancel the match, resulting in a forfeit. The host club will also be responsible for all referee fees.
This guide consolidates information to encourage every program to follow a baseline of safety considerations. With preventative measures in place, athletes and parents can find security in knowing the risk of injury is significantly reduced through responsible preparation.
Emergency Action Plan Development
Each program needs an established emergency plan unique to each place of assembly. The action plan includes naming the individual trained to assess the situation, secondary assessment, 911 involvement protocol, parental contact responsibility, directions/contact information for the nearest hospital, and notation of a volunteer responsible for accompanying the injured athlete to the hospital. A detailed emergency action plan should be drafted prior to any activity, reviewed by all medical staff and made available on-site as a reference.
In developing an action plan, it is important to recruit all necessary medical staff and volunteers. Finding the right medical personnel can pose a challenge in terms of financial constraints and availability. Developing a strong relationship with local area sports medicine and physical therapy clinics can help solve this issue. A program might offer to refer all players and family members who need treatment in exchange for services from dedicated medical professionals. By any means necessary a program should aspire to provide at minimum a Certified Athletic Trainer and ideally an appointed Medical Director, ATC and EMT at all major events.
The USA Rugby EAP template can be found HERE.
Medical Equipment & First Aid Supplies
Rugby requires a low level of start up cost as only a few essential pieces of equipment are needed to participate. A program priority should be to ensure that equipment for personal or team use during matches and training sessions is safe and World Rugby approved. A complete list of accepted equipment required is available at www.irb.com. In addition to these regulations, a fully stocked medical kit should be available for use by all participants. For a detailed description of medical kit materials, please consult the National Center for Sports Safety website.
A complete medical and safe practice binder should be included in the medical kit. Necessary paperwork consists of:
- Physician Evaluation Documentation
- Liability & Eligibility Waiver
- Injury Incident Report
- Participant Roster
- Emergency Information/Medical Release Form
- Facility specific Emergency Action Plan
- Photocopy of Insurance and ID card
- Medical History Questionnaire
In addition to these items, physician notes, training attendance records, match rosters and other documents may also be included. All of the information within the binder provides everything needed to properly treat an injured athlete.
Facilities & Playing Conditions
Securing a safe area for training sessions and matches is important. Programs should make every effort to use adequately sodded or turf surfaces to prevent injuries. Fields must be void of hazards such as broken glass, protruding rocks, sprinkler heads and holes. When examining playing surfaces, size, availability, access for emergency vehicles, available parking, lights, and usage requirements should also be considered. As a member of USA Rugby, all clubs have access to liability insurance which provides protection in case of property damage or bodily injury to third parties. These parties may include the venue owner, coaches, referees, sponsors, spectators and others. Most venue owners will require this type of insurance before a club is allowed to step on the field of play.
Beyond the actual playing field conditions, programs must be conscious of the impending weather. If it is hot and humid, coaches must plan to compete early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the heat. Having ample fluids and water breaks in shaded areas helps to lessen the incidence of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Coaches must know the signs and symptoms of these conditions and take them seriously. In cold weather coaches must consider ground conditions. Impact on a frozen field of play can increase the severity of any injury. Awareness of the signs of hypothermia in extreme cold conditions is also important. Proper clothing, warm up, and cool down activity is crucial to injury prevention and optimum performance.
Lightning Concerns - In case of lightning everyone must evacuate the area to a safe location. A large building is the best location while sheds, dugouts and bleachers are to be avoided. If a sturdy building is not available, a vehicle with closed windows will work instead. The recommended method to help determine when cover should be taken is the flash-to-bang method. To use this method, begin counting on the lightning flash, and stop counting when the associated thunder is heard. Divide this number (in seconds) by 5 to determine the distance (in miles) to the lightning flash. For example, if the time in seconds between the lightning being spotted and the thunder being heard is equal to 30, divide that by 5, and you get 6 (30/5=6). Therefore, that lightning flash was approximately 6 miles away from the observer. If a game, practice, or other activity is suspended or postponed due to lightning activity, it is important to establish criteria for resumption of activity. Waiting at least 30 minutes after the last lightning flash or sound of thunder is recommended. Each time lightning is seen or thunder is heard the 30-minute clock should be reset.
Additional information can be found on the USA Rugby website on the following topics: