ACC as­sess safety of new scrum law

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport -

New Zealand’s ACC Scheme will play a piv­otal role in help­ing the In­ter­na­tional Rugby Board (IRB) as­sess the ef­fec­tive­ness of its new scrum en­gage­ment law.

The law change, which aims to im­prove player safety and re­duce frus­trat­ing scrum col­lapses, is grad­u­ally be­ing phased in on the world stage – but for many Ki­wis, their first glimpse of the new law in ac­tion would have been dur­ing Satur­day’s Bledis­loe Cup match be­tween the All Blacks and Wal­la­bies in Syd­ney.

ACC’s role will be to help the IRB as­sess how well the new law im­proves player safety.

ACC was ap­proached by the IRB be­cause of a pre­vi­ous study ACC car­ried out into scrum safety, as part of its rugby-fo­cused in­jury preven­tion work.

In tan­dem with the New Zealand Rugby Union, ACC has de­vel­oped a world-lead­ing in­jury preven­tion pro­gramme called Rug­byS­mart. This has been in­stru­men­tal in re­duc­ing se­ri­ous in­juries, par­tic­u­larly those sus­tained by front row play­ers at all lev­els of the game.

ACC is uniquely po­si­tioned to as­sess the safety as­pect of in­ter­ven­tions such as law changes, be­cause of the com­pre­hen­sive data it col­lects about in­juries through its claims process.

Ev­ery­one who sees a doc­tor or other health pro­fes­sional in New Zealand, be­cause of a rugby in­jury, au­to­mat­i­cally has an ACC claim lodged on their be­half.

‘‘The real test will be when the new law takes ef­fect in the am­a­teur game next sea­son,’’ said ACC’s Pro­gramme Man­ager Sport, Isaac Carl­son.

‘‘We’ll an­a­lyse all the rugby re­lated claims we re­ceive in New Zealand through­out the sea­son, and that will give us a pic­ture of how well the new law is work­ing safety.’’

The law change is ex­pected to en­hance player safety be­cause props in the scrum will be re­quired to bind their arms be­fore the rest of the play­ers en­gage or ‘‘come to­gether’’ in the scrum.

‘‘The con­sen­sus is that this should help pre­vent col­lapses of the scrum, which is where a lot of se­ri­ous in­juries can hap­pen. The new law is also ex­pected to re­duce im­pact on en­gage­ment, and if you hit some­thing with less force, that will po­ten­tially re­duce both the like­li­hood and sever­ity of in­jury.’’

The IRB has said it plans to as­sess the scrum en­gage­ment trial next year, with the aim of hav­ing ap­proved amend­ments in place a year ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.

For many rugby fans, their fo­cus will be less on safety and more on whether the new law de­liv­ers a more en­joy­able spec­ta­cle – but Mr Carl­son said a bet­ter game and a safer game can be one and the same thing.

‘‘A key in­sight we pro­mote through Rug­byS­mart is that cor­rect tech­nique is also win­ning tech­nique – so you don’t com­pro­mise your abil­ity as a player in any way by play­ing safely.’’

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