Scottish Rugby unveils ground-breaking Player Welfare Action Plan to support safe enjoyment of the community game
Scottish Rugby has launched a ground-breaking Player Welfare Action Plan designed to reduce and better manage injuries at all levels of the community game, and to ensure the game remains enjoyable for all.
The Action Plan has a dedicated focus on eight key objectives which put player welfare at the forefront of on and off-pitch activity delivery, utilising an evidence-based approach for decision making.
The Action Plan has been developed by Scottish Rugby’s Welfare Manager, Dr Karen Barclay, Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Robson and Head of Game Development, Neil Graham.
Aligned to World Rugby’s six-point plan for player welfare, key areas the Action Plan addresses include pitch side care, concussion management, age banding, laws, education, research, wellbeing and coaching.
These key areas will be addressed through new minimum standards, enhanced training and education including new and refreshed courses accessible to coaches, players, referees, parents and volunteers, plus new policies and resources to support clubs and schools.
This season’s Club Investment Fund and Developing Club Investment Programme funding models have also aligned to the Player Welfare Action Plan, ensuring that recommended minimum operating standards across clubs are aligned to the plan’s core objectives.
Welcoming the strategy, Gavin Scott, Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby Development said: “I am delighted that we are launching our Player Welfare Action Plan today. Putting player welfare at the centre at all levels of our game is critical if we are to continue to grow rugby in Scotland and ensure the game continues to be enjoyed by all who take part. The welfare of our players has always been our number one priority, and our Action Plan emphasises that commitment.
“The Player Welfare Action plan will go a long way in making a real difference to welfare practices and safety within our clubs, schools and societies which will only benefit our sport, and most importantly our players.
“We want to lead the way in the player welfare space of the domestic game, which started with the appointment of Dr Karen Barclay earlier this year, alongside the recent implementation of the new Tackle Height law trial and our work with Edinburgh University on female injury prevention in the community game.”
Lending support to the Action Plan, Scottish Rugby’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Robson added: “Scottish Rugby is deeply committed to prioritising the welfare of our players. Scottish Rugby’s Player Welfare Action Plan underpins that commitment and will be a vital tool for clubs and schools in providing clearer understanding around how we can all play our part.
“I’d like to share my thanks to Dr Karen Barclay for leading on this important plan, taking a great deal of time building the plan by drawing on her medical knowledge and experiences as a sports medic within the domestic game.”
Ahead of the 2023/24 season starting, Scottish Rugby has expanded its RugbyRight programme, the minimum standard online course for coaches and match officials, to include a dedicated course on concussion awareness and management. Adding to the existing modules on safeguarding and tackle safety, the new concussion course includes comprehensive support to help identify and manage concussion, and provides clear information on the graduated return to play protocols at all ages and stages of the game.
The Concussion Education module is also available for members of the public to access via Scottish Rugby’s website under ‘Player Welfare’, with Scottish Rugby encouraging all players, volunteers and parents to undertake it.
Another core part of this strategy will be to create a Player Welfare committee, which will report directly to the Club Rugby Board (CRB), and this is a key part of the accountability process. The Action Plan has had full endorsement from the CRB.
Scottish Rugby Vice President and Chairman of the CRB, Keith Wallace said: “Myself and the wider CRB are very pleased to welcome the Player Welfare Action Plan, and we are looking forward to working with the new Player Welfare committee to ensure that this strategy is brought to life and that we continue to support our clubs, schools and society navigate welfare matters in the best way possible.”
Further endorsing the Action Plan, World Rugby Chief Player Welfare and Rugby Services Officer Mark Harrington said: “Scottish Rugby’s Player Welfare Action plan is a fantastic example of how unions can ensure that rugby’s commitment to make player welfare our top priority, can be brought to life for everyone in the game.
“I’d encourage all those involved in rugby in Scotland to act on the advice in the Player Welfare Action Plan and expanded RugbyRight training programme. Together we can ensure that everyone enjoys the benefits of our amazing sport whilst taking a balanced approach to players’ health and wellbeing.”