PGB introduces concussion education
English rugby's Professional Game Board has introduced a compulsory education programme on concussion for players and coaches.
The PGB, made up of representatives of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Premiership Rugby (PRL) and the Rugby Players' Association (RPA), has made it mandatory for the online module to be completed before the start of next season.
The course will apply to the Aviva Premiership, Championship and Regional Academies, while further resources will be made available to referees and medical staff.
The PGB has also given its backing to several recommendations made by its Medical Advisory Group.
These include the mandatory viewing of footage of how an injury occurred before a decision can be taken over whether a player is fit to resume action.
This would be in addition to the International Rugby Board's current Pitchside Concussion Assessment - a five-minute test on players who suffer head injuries.
Another recommendation was for a review panel to investigate in situations where a player has returned to the field but is later revealed to have been concussed.
There is also a commitment from all sides to support independent research into the long-term consequences of multiple concussions on recently-retired players.
The move comes in the wake of research in the United States which found signs of early onset dementia in former NFL players.
There was also the notorious example of Australia flanker George Smith, who came back onto the field in last summer's third Test against the British & Irish Lions despite clearly being concussed after a clash of heads with Richard Hibbard.
RFU chief medical officer Simon Kemp, said: "Concussion is acknowledged to be one of the most challenging sports injuries to diagnose, assess and rehabilitate but we continue to make significant progress in this area.
"The education initiative is designed to broaden understanding beyond healthcare practitioners and facilitate the further cultural change needed across the game for good concussion management.
"We are very aware that the way concussion is managed at the professional level drives how it's managed at other levels of the game and it is important we continue to lead the way."
David Barnes, rugby director of the RPA, added: "The RPA remains committed to working with all parties to ensure that injury risks to our members playing the game are monitored and effective strategies are developed to reduce risks to their welfare.
"The RPA and its specialist independent medical advisors will continue to educate the players on the seriousness of concussion whilst also looking to further understand the research into potential long-term consequences of head injuries."