The team travelled to East London earlier this month to host a workshop that provided Border’s key rugby role-players with some easy-to-implement practical tips and strategies to deal effectively with serious injuries.

“We identified that little, if any, medical assistance was available at the majority of matches played in the Border region,” said SA Rugby’s Medical Manager, Clint Readhead. “In addition, almost none of the tournaments had an emergency action plan in place while very few clubs had access to basic emergency medical equipment such as spinal boards and neck collars.”

The team also included Mahlubi Puzi (SA Rugby’s Manager of Game Development), Dr Wayne Viljoen (BokSmart National Rugby Safety Programme Project Manager) and Gail Ross (Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund General Manager).

Dr Viljoen said the workshop had laid the platform for an ongoing working relationship between SA Rugby, the Border Rugby Union and its clubs, with the aim of addressing the causes of rugby injuries. “This is the first of many of these types of workshops to ensure that the game of rugby within Border becomes safer,” he said. “We want to develop potentially sustainable solutions within the region but in the meantime, if our practical tips are followed, it should have a significant impact on the management of such injuries.”

These recommendations included the identification of trained first-aiders who would be willing to attend practices and matches; the drawing up of an emergency action plan by clubs; and the promotion of the toll-free BokSmart Spineline emergency number, 0800 678 678.

The BokSmart programme, a joint initiative between SA Rugby, the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund and Absa, will be officially launched in July, with one of the main aims of reducing the amount of serious and catastrophic injuries in South African rugby.