Statement from Pontypool RFC chief executive officer, Ben Jeffreys, in response to the South Wales Argus article ‘Newport West MP Paul Flynn calls for sport safety overhaul following former rugby star's death’.
“I am exceptionally disappointed with the comments of Paul Flynn MP that emanated from his recent blog article, ‘Two deaths warning to rugby and boxing. Deadly, previously tolerated, risks are threatening the future of boxing and rugby’.
“The blog post made direct reference to the tragic passing of Pontypool RFC great, Cae Trayhern, but his comments appeared to demonstrate little appreciation of the current climate regarding concussion management in Welsh rugby.
“I wish to place on record my total admiration for what Cae’s family are striving to achieve in terms of raising awareness of sport-related head injuries and they have the complete support of Pontypool RFC in their quest to achieve this.
“It is vital that we never stand still in ensuring that our players are well protected and it is my intention to share Pontypool RFC’s medical policies in full with Cae’s family to assist with their efforts.
“They remain in our thoughts during this difficult time and Cae’s legacy will live on at Pontypool RFC for generations to come.
“But in direct response to Mr Flynn’s blog post, the Welsh Rugby Union’s Recognise and Remove Concussion Guidance document offers a crystal clear set of protocols to clubs in treating any individual who is suspected of having suffered a concussion during competition - from establishing a diagnosis to managing a player’s safe return to competition.
“The document also implores rugby clubs and their respective medical practitioners to educate players, staff and volunteers on the signs and symptoms of concussion, so that every member of a rugby club is able to recognise and remove a player from physical competition themselves, as the title of the document suggests.
“Led by Pontypool RFC’s Medical Director, Mr Angus Robertson, the club performs annual concussion guidance educational evenings to its squad, staff and volunteers.
“The success of this approach was evidenced earlier this year when a member of our squad was immediately removed from a pre-season training session after several players identified that the player displayed numerous unmistakeable symptoms of concussion.
“The player was subsequently treated by our medical team and was not medically cleared to return to competition in any form for over five weeks.
“The player has since made a full recovery and has returned to active competition for the club.
“This demonstrates that Pontypool RFC strictly abides by the guidelines set within the document and it forms a central part of the club’s extensive Medical Policy, which has been commended by the Welsh Rugby Union as part of the club’s A Licence accreditation. Pontypool RFC has held A Licence accreditation since 2014.
“I would recommend that Paul Flynn MP reads the Welsh Rugby Union’s Recognise and Remove Concussion Guidance document in full.
“I would also be happy to meet with him to discuss his concerns further.
“The welfare of our players, staff and volunteers takes absolute priority over our objectives on the field and our medical policy is wholly reflective of this.”