Dr Wayne Viljoen, SA Rugby Senior Manager Rugby Safety, on Friday commended the referees, coaches, medical staff and players at the SA Rugby Youth Weeks for their efforts towards achieving BokSmart’ s long-term goal of #VisionZero.
The key motivation behind the #VisionZero initiative, which was launched in February, is for all rugby stakeholders to collectively aim for the ultimate goal of a game which has eradicated all catastrophic spinal injuries, traumatic brain injuries, cardiac fatalities and severe concussions.
As a secondary focus #VisionZero also extends to other areas of the game where full adherence to rugby safety regulations is achieved through safe playing fields, all referees and coaches being BokSmart certified, selecting age-appropriate players, and the minimum medical staffing and equipment being provided at all matches, among other factors.
Following the successful conclusion of the Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) week, the SA Rugby Girls U16 and U18 Weeks, the U13 Coca-Cola Craven Week and the U16 Coca-Cola Grant Khomo Week, and only one day’s play remaining in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and Coca-Cola Academy Week, Viljoen was satisfied that the #VisionZero message was gaining momentum.
“We are close to reaching the conclusion of three jam-packed weeks of junior rugby around the country in which the players have played between three and four matches in the space of a week, and we are pleased to see that the referees, coaches, medical staff and players are cognisant of #VisionZero,” said Viljoen.
“It is vital that everyone follows the correct steps to avoid catastrophic injuries and serious concussions, because of rugby’s high-impact nature. It has been evident in the last few weeks that the #VisionZero message is filtering through SA’s rugby structures.
“We had a great example when referee Anuvuyo Fakade spotted a player going down demonstrating signs of tonic posturing, being clearly dazed and showing oculomotor signs. This he picked up from the BokSmart education provided to him before the tournament. The referee then assisted the medical team in providing key information regarding the on-field event that helped them make a more informed clinical decision. The player was then removed from further participation in the tournament as per SA Rugby’s Concussion Regulations.”
#VisionZero will be incorporated into the sixth cycle of the BokSmart rugby safety course, being rolled out later next year, which equips individuals with the knowledge and skills to apply safe rugby techniques and basic medical and injury prevention practices. BokSmart certification is compulsory for all coaches and referees and this has to be renewed every two years.
The course features everything from rugby safety related laws, concussion identification, treatment and management, on establishing functional emergency action plans, technical preparation, safer contact techniques especially for tacklers and ball carriers, and a renewed focus on prevention, identification and management of serious head, neck and spinal injuries.