The Irish Rugby Players Association (IRUPA) has issued a nationwide plea to players, team mates and coaches around the country to immediately remove a team member from play who takes a knock to the head until they can be evaluated. In short, ‘If In Doubt, Sit It Out’.

Speaking at the launch of a new partnership with the Brain Injury Services and Support Organisation, Headway, Omar Hassanein, IRUPA CEO said;
“There is a marked shift in the attitude towards concussion in professional rugby. We have come a long way in the past few years in terms of raising awareness of the dangers of concussion and protecting the short and long-term welfare of players. Our players rely on protocols that have been put in place to protect their well being and are supported by medical expertise pitch side to ensure that decisions are made in the players’ best interest.
“However”, he continued, “we know that this level of support is not available for the thousands of players around the country who are playing at the weekends, in schools, colleges and local clubs. The IRFU have done great work highlighting the issue with their Stop, Inform, Rest, Return campaign. We would just like to reiterate the importance of educational awareness at all levels of our wonderful game. Therefore we are calling on athletes everywhere no matter what their sport to take any knock to the head seriously. The risk is too high otherwise. So use your head and come off until you can get properly assessed.”

“We have teamed up with Headway who work with people suffering from acquired brain injury and are supporting their call – don’t take a risk, sit it out and get checked out. Unlike a torn ligament or broken bone which would force players to come off the pitch, a physical injury to the brain is at risk of being ignored because it is invisible. Players cannot afford to be cavalier in their approach”, he continued.

Leinster Rugby captain Kevin McLaughlin was at the launch as was Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty, who had to retire from rugby as a result of concussion. 

“No one can ignore a bang to the head.” said Fogarty.

“After I suffered from several concussions I found myself being sometimes sharp with my little girl and cross with my wife. It can affect every facet of your life, from being sensitive to light and sound to constantly feeling drowsy or tired. I hope that my personal experience with concussion related issues may help to educate and inform those who play or coach rugby in Ireland”

Also at the launch was Kieran Loughran Chief Executive of Headway who said,

“We are delighted that IRUPA are taking a leadership position in the area of concussion. Injuries happen in all sports but when you get a knock to the head you cannot afford to take chances. We only get one brain. As a player you need to be your first line of defence.

“If you think you have had a concussion, tell your coach or team mate and don’t get back in the game until you have been cleared by your doctor,” he advised.

“With rest, most people fully recover. The important thing to know is that after a concussion the brain is more sensitive to damage and is at risk of second-impact syndrome — when an athlete takes a second blow before recovering from the first. That causes nerves that monitor blood flow to the brain to malfunction.

“Repeated concussions or a severe concussion may lead to long lasting problems with movement, learning, or speaking. Because of the small chance of serious problems, it is important to contact a doctor if you or someone you know has symptoms of a concussion.

“Here at Headway we see the devastating impact of people living with brain injury. Our overriding message to athletes everywhere young and old is that all concussions are serious.”


IRUPA are calling on everyone to get involved and show their support by putting on hard hats and posting or tweeting #Headucate #ConcussionAwareness

The four rugby provinces will all be donning their ‘custom’ #Headucate hard hats in support so make sure and join the hard hat brigade!