Background: There is a risk of concussion when playing rugby union. Appropriate management of concussion includes compliance with the return-to-play regulations of the sports body for reducing the likelihood of premature return-to-play by injured players. Purpose: To describe the proportion of rugby union players who comply with the sports body's regulations on returning to play postconcussion. Study design: Prospective cohort study. Methods: 1958 community rugby union players (aged 15–48 years) in Sydney (Australia) were recruited from schoolboy, grade and suburban competitions and followed over ≥1 playing seasons. Club doctors/physiotherapists/coaches or trained injury recorders who attended the game reported players who sustained a concussion. Concussed players were followed up over a 3-month period and the dates when they returned to play (including either a game or training session) were recorded, as well as any return-to-play advice they received. Results: 187 players sustained ≥1 concussion throughout the follow-up. The median number of days before players returned to play (competition game play or training) following concussion was 3 (range 1–84). Most players (78%) did not receive return-to-play advice postconcussion, and of those who received correct advice, all failed to comply with the 3-week stand-down regulation. Conclusions: The paucity of return-to-play advice received by community rugby union players postconcussion and the high level of non-compliance with return-to-play regulations highlight the need for better dissemination and implementation of the return-to-play regulations and improved understanding of the underlying causes of why players do not adhere to return-to-play practices.
This study reports the time to sustain a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) among a cohort of community rugby union players. Demographic and player characteristics were collected and players followed up for between one and three playing seasons. 7% of the cohort sustained an mTBI within 10 h of game time, increasing twofold to 14% within 20 h. The mean time to first mTBI was 8 h with an SD of 6.2 (median 6.8 h; IQR: 2.9–11.7 h). Players reporting a recent history of concussion were 20% more likely to sustain an mTBI after 20 h of game time compared with those with no recent history of concussion. Players were likely to sustain an mTBI in shorter time if they trained for <3 h/week (HR=1.48, p=0.03) or had a body mass index <27 (HR=1.77, p=0.007). The findings highlight modifiable characteristics to reduce the likelihood of shortened time to mTBI.