New Zealand Rugby has launched a brand new initiative to stop players from returning to the game after suffering concussion.
It’s called the blue card, and is set to be rolled out to 14 provincial unions across New Zealand.
The blue card can be issued when a referee suspects a player has suffered a concussion. It means they must immediately stand down for at least three weeks, and obtain medical clearance to return to play.
The team will be sanctioned should they play a player who has not presented medical certification confirming to return to play.
NZR’s head of community rugby, Brent Anderson, said the Blue Card Concussion Initiative was setting an example for the importance of looking after players.
“The referee has no vested interest in keeping a player with a suspected head knock on the field. Referees will be trained to recognise the signs of suspected concussion,” he said.
“Player welfare is everybody’s responsibility. While head knocks are relatively rare given the number of matches every weekend, it’s important everybody, including supporters, clubs, referees and the medical community, understands how to manage concussion.
“We need to ensure players don’t return to play until they are medically cleared and ready.”