The NRL has released information regarding the implementation of its new concussion rules during the first five rounds of the Telstra Premiership.
NRL head of football, Mr Todd Greenberg, said that, overall, clubs had complied with the policy, which is aimed at protecting players who suffer head knocks during games.
He congratulated NRL clubs, club doctors and trainers for taking the issue seriously and moving quickly to assess and treat players who display any signs of concussion.
Mr Greenberg said that during the first five rounds 27 players were taken from the field to undergo Sideline Concussion Assessments (SCAs); 14 of those players returned to the field after being cleared for concussion, three did not return to the field, and five clubs have been given ‘please explain’ notices in relation to their compliance with the new concussion rules. Several inquiries are still ongoing.
Mr Greenberg said the NRL had issued one breach notice, to the Bulldogs, for an incident involving forward Josh Jackson in Round 2. He said the club would be fined $20,000 for the breach.
As it was a first breach $10,000 of that fine will be suspended, but the club will be liable to pay the suspended portion of the fine if there are any further breaches during the 2014 season.
‘Given this is a new policy, we are very pleased with the way clubs have enforced it,’ Mr Greenberg said. ‘It is clear that they are taking the new rules seriously and are acting quickly to assess and treat players who suffer a head knock.’
Mr Greenberg said the policy would remain under continual assessment.
He said he would further consult with the club CEOs, chief medical officers, coaches and players as well as the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) in the coming months to hear their views on the way the policy is working.
‘There is no doubt the new policy has raised awareness of the need to take concussion seriously,’ he said. ‘We know that the club doctors and medical staff are best placed to determine whether a player should return to the field after a head knock.
‘We believe they are overwhelmingly acting in the best interests of their players but we will continue to take action where a breach occurs.’