orld Rugby have launched the Brain Health Initiative, a global campaign aimed to educate people within the rugby industry on the importance of brain health.
The initiative is being launched at the World Rugby Medical Commission Conference in London, with the aim to make rugby safer and the most progressive sport on public welfare.
The feature of the campaign is a video by leading experts, who describe the 12 modifiable risks of dementia to optimise brain health and where to go if a player suspects they have a brain injury.
University of Edinburgh professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing and Brain Health Scotland director, Craig Ritchie, said: “Long-term cognitive health is extremely complex, and
dementia isn’t necessarily a consequence of one factor.”
“It is important for those involved in the game to understand that by prioritising good brain health, it is possible to reduce the risk of developing dementia and other degenerative brain
“Rugby players, past and present, can make moves such as maintaining good health and fitness, and tackling stress, anxiety and depression to help reduce certain risk factors, while the sport continues to prioritise reducing the risk of head impacts for players at all levels and stages of the game,” he said.
Free clinics will be established, where retired and current rugby players can get their brain health assessed.
By getting retired rugby athletes to participate in the campaign, it is hoped younger athletes will follow the lead and look after their brain health.
International Rugby head of strategic projects and research, Sene Naoupu, said: “We are working hard on concussion management, both in terms of injury prevention as well as the ongoing support of players throughout their lives.”
“There’s no doubt that the development of brain clinics in our major rugby playing regions is a big step in the right direction – an initiative that we’ve worked alongside World Rugby on.
“Looking ahead, we seek to continue to improve the offering to retired players, ensuring that those in need feel looked after in every way possible,” Naoupu said.
World Rugby chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, said: “We care deeply about every member of our rugby family, and constantly strive to safeguard and support our players.”
“We have consistently acted on evolving science and evidence to advance player welfare for all.
“I’ve been saddened by the recent, brave accounts of former players about their experiences.
“As a former player myself, I appreciate that some players may be worried about their brain health.
“We must, and are, putting those players at the heart of our welfare plans.
“Good brain health is much wider than what happens on the field, and we have more control over it than you would think.
“It is about creating community, starting conversations and building an understanding of how we all can make lifestyle changes that can positively impact our long-term wellbeing.
“At the same time, we will not sit still in evolving our game to ensure its best protects those playing it,” Beaumont said.