Player Injuries and Injury Policies
We do our best to keep all players training and playing in control, but given rugby's nature as a high-speed sport, and the full-contact nature of tackle rugby, it is sadly inevitable that injuries will occur.
Players and/or parents MUST inform the coaching staff immediately if they consider themselves to be injured or unable to fully participate in training or match play.
Types of Injury
The most common rugby injuries are bumps, bruises and scrapes, usually on elbows, knees, and/or hands. These will be treated on-site, in consultation with the player’s parent(s) (if present), and in the best judgment of the coaches. Players may be approved to continue practice/play immediately, but coaches reserve the right to require the player to sit out the rest of the event for rest/recuperation. Return to play will be based on the player’s feedback, parents’ input, and the judgment of the coaching staff. Return to play is a coach decision, and is final.
Less common but possible more serious injuries are cuts and gashes, or deep bruises. These will be treated first on-site by coaching staff and with parental consultation (if present), and usually will be referred to immediate professional medical treatment. Emergency services may be summoned to the site, or the player directed to proceed immediately to emergency medical attention (with parent/coach accompaniment). A player with such injuries will be done training or playing for that event. Returning to play (after such injury has been diagnosed, treated and is considered healed) will be based on professional medical consultation, the player’s feedback, parents’ input, the judgment of the coaching staff, where appropriate. Returning to play is a coach decision, which is final.
All dental injuries involving loose, chipped, cracked or missing teeth will be referred immediately to emergency professional medical/dental treatment (in consultation with the parents), and may include the summoning of emergency services to the site. A player with such an injury will be done for that event. Returning to play (after such injury has been fully diagnosed and treated) will be based on the player’s feedback, parents’ input, the judgement of the coaching staff, and direct, written physician/dentist input. Returning to play is a coach decision, and is final.
Major injuries, such as a major cut/gash, joint dislocation or broken bone, will be treated immediately, and in consultation with the player’s parents, and will be referred to immediate professional medical treatment, to include the summoning of emergency services to the site. A player with such an injury is done for that event, and will require professional medical clearance in writing to return to training/play. Feedback from physicians, the player, and parents will be taken into account, but the decision to return to play rests with the coach, which is final.
Any player who loses consciousness or who has discernible (coaching staff determination, per CDC checklist/guidelines, assisted by medical professionals, if present) loss of focus or cognitive awareness will be assessed on-site for possible brain injury. All such players suffering a head injury will be immediately pulled from training or a match, and may not resume participation until the coaching staff has been notified formally (in writing) that a professional medical examination has cleared that player to return to play.
For formal, medically diagnosed concussions, and for all instances in which a player loses consciousness (whether a concussion is diagnosed or not), that player is banned from all training and all match play for a period of three weeks (21 days). This is long-established International Rugby Board and USA Rugby policy, and is not negotiable. Even if formally medically cleared during the three-week period, a player may not return to training or play until the three-week period is over, and may return to training and play only with formal/written clearance from a medical professional, as well as consultation with the player and parents.
Regarding sports-related head injuries, check out "When It’s More than a Headache," an excellent New York Times story on the youth head injuries, from September 2009.
Returning to Play
After any injury, the sole decision for return to play rests with the coaching staff, ultimately with the head coach and FHYAA rugby program commissioner. We will take into account all factors, including a player’s willingness to return, parents’ recommendations, and professional medical input. The overriding factor will be the player's health and safety. A player will never be rushed to return to either training or play, and should feel no pressure to do so, from coaches, parents, or peers.