Concussion Update: Rule Change
On 28 April 2023, the Government released guidance entitled ‘If in Doubt, Sit Them Out,’ which provides guidance on concussion for grassroots (non-elite) sport. We take head injuries very seriously at the HPA and therefore consider it necessary to implement the latest guidance on general best practice with immediate effect (5 May 2023), to protect the health of our players.
The key change for our rules is that if a player is concussed, then the default stand-down time, the time between the concussion and coming back to competitive play, is 21 days.
For the avoidance of doubt, with immediate effect, our default position is that any player who has suffered a concussion or suspected concussion will not be allowed to return to play before 21 days have elapsed since the date of the concussion/suspected concussion. It remains the responsibility of clubs to report head injuries to the HPA within 24 hours.
We are in the process of developing an approach using baseline and post-concussive tests to permit players to enjoy polo sooner than the 21 days in a safe manner. It is hoped that this will be in place for the 2024 Summer season.
For 2023, we may permit professional players of 2 goals or more and team owners playing 12-goal or higher, a reduced return to play protocol. They may return to competition sooner (but not sooner than 7 days), provided that they have signed the relevant consent waiver, available from the HPA office, and have produced a certificate of fitness from a doctor who has seen the Head Injury Assessment report form from the club safety officer.
More detailed rule changes to reflect our new approach will be released imminently. In the meantime, we encourage all players, at every level, to read ‘If in Doubt, Sit Them Out’ and to take a cautious and safety-first approach to any potential head injury.