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SBD Global/February 28, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

National Rugby League Introduces Most Stringent Concussion Guidelines In History

The NRL will impose the most stringent concussion guidelines in league history.
National Rugby League head of football Todd Greenberg has heralded "the introduction of the most stringent concussion guidelines in the game's history by warning club officials they put their professional reputations on the line and their place in the game at risk if they abuse the new measures in order to gain a tactical advantage," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Greenberg also revealed "sideline concussion tests would be electronically recorded and reviewed by the NRL to ensure the guidelines were being followed." Furthermore, doctors -- in the absence of coaches and other officials -- "will be required to appear before club directors four times a year to explain findings" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/28). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported coaches, trainers and club doctors "also face bans and have been warned their teams could be stripped of competition points if they are caught rorting the use of free interchanges for players taken from the field for a concussion assessment test." Should a player be cleared "to resume playing after undergoing a SCAT 3 sideline assessment test and he returns to the field within 15 minutes, no interchanges would be recorded against his team." Initially, club doctors "had wanted 20 minutes to conduct the assessment," but Rugby League Medical Officers spokesperson Sam Sorrenti and Int'l Rugby Board Chief Medical Officer Martin Raftery said that 15 minutes "would be sufficient time" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/28).

CAP INCREASE: The AAP's James Macsmith reported NRL "has moved to increase the second-tier salary cap" from A$375,000 ($336,000) to A$440,000. A "comprehensive review of the salary cap remains ongoing" and on Thursday the NRL announced only minor changes ahead of the new season start on March 6. A number of other proposals, including a marquee player allowance, "will be considered" by the Australian Rugby League Commission next month. A marquee player rule, which "would allow clubs to sign a high-profile player outside the cap, was rejected by Super League clubs at a meeting on Wednesday but that is likely to have little impact upon the thinking of the ARLC" (AAP, 2/28).

DRUG DATA: In Sydney, Read wrote as part of its negotiations with the players' union over the game's testing policy, the NRL "has indicated it wants the ability to release figures relating to the number of tests, including the number of positive results." While the game "has carried out in-house testing for illicit substances for years, it has never disclosed the number of tests it has conducted or how many positive results have been returned." Releasing in-house testing results "would represent a seismic shift by the NRL" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/28).
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