Take the 20 minute online course which will explain what concussion is, how it happens and what coaches can do to help their players avoid injury or return safely to playing following a concussion.

When you complete the course, you will be able to print off a certificate and submit your details to have the achievement added to your RFU learning record.

Some people are having issues with certificates not printing, or coming up blank, if this happens please do take a screen shot of the "Congratulations" screen at the end of the quiz to show as proof of completion if required by your club, college or school; and email details of which browser and device you were using to so we can investigate any issues.

Coaches probably have the most important role in the prevention (PDF 805KB) and management of concussion. Research has shown that young players in particular rely on their coach to provide information on concussion and are influenced most in their behaviour towards concussion by their coach.

All coaches should be able to recognise suspected concussion and are in the best position to remove the player from play.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a temporary injury to the brain that cannot be seen on routine x-rays or scans. It affects the way a person may think and remember things for a short time, and can cause a variety of symptoms.

What causes a concussion?

Any blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow to the body which causes a sudden jarring of the head may cause a concussion.

Recognise the symptoms and signs of concussion

A player does not need to be knocked out (lose consciousness) to have had a concussion.

Thinking problems the player may experience:

  • Does not know time, date, place, period of game, opposing team, or the score in the game – use the Pocket SCAT3 (PDF 128KB) questions to help you
  • General confusion
  • Cannot remember things that happened before and/or after the injury
  • Seems slow to answer questions or follow directions
  • Seems easily distracted
  • Not playing as well as expected
  • A blank stare/glassy eyed, “the lights are on but nobody's home”

Things the player may complain of or you see:

  • Knocked out
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Feel dazed, “dinged” or stunned
  • Loss of vision, seeing double or blurred, seeing stars or flashing lights
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sleepiness
  • Stomach ache, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting
  • Poor coordination or balance, staggering around or unsteady on feet
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration
  • Strange or inappropriate emotions (i.e. laughing, crying, getting angry easily)
  • Feeling generally unwell

When can a concussed player return to rugby?

It is very important that the player does not go back to rugby or any other sport, if they have any concussion symptoms or signs. Return to sport and activity must follow a step-wise Graduated Return to Play (GRTP) (1.6MB).

They should not go back to rugby/sport until they have been cleared to do so by a doctor.

How long will it take to get better?

The signs and symptoms of a concussion often last for 7-10 days in adults but may last much longer, especially in younger players and children. In some cases, players may take many weeks or months to recover. Suffering previous concussions may increase the chance that the person may take longer to recover.

Remember the 4 Rs:

Recognise the signs and symptoms (PDF 859KB)

Remove the player from play (PDF 859KB)

Recover fully before returning to sport (PDF 859KB)

Return only after following a Graduated Return to Play (1.6MB)

Read more... (PDF 804KB)

Download the concussion assessment tool – Pocket SCAT3 (PDF 128KB)

These RFU Concussion resources have been developed based on the Zurich Guidelines published in the Consensus Statement on Concussion in sport, and adapted for rugby by the International Rugby Board

What to do if you suspect concussion in a player?

You must remove them from play right away. Continuing to play increases their risk of more severe, longer lasting concussion symptoms, as well as increases their risk of other injury:

  • You should not let them return to play that day
  • You should not allow them to be left alone
  • You should make sure they are seen by a health care practitioner as soon as possible that day
  • You should not let them drive

How is a concussion treated?

Concussion symptoms are made worse by exertion, both physical and mental. The most important treatment for a concussion is:

  • The player should not exercise or do any activities that may make them worse, like driving a car, reading, working on the computer or playing video games
  • If mental activities (e.g. reading, concentrating, using the computer) worsen their symptoms, they may have to stay home from work, college or school
  • If they return to activities before they are completely better, they are more likely to get worse, and to have their symptoms last longer

Once they are recovered, and cleared to do so by a healthcare practitioner they can start a step-wise increase in activities – see When can a concussed player return to rugby?. If possible, they should be seen by a doctor with experience in treating concussions.

Can it be anything more serious?

Anyone with a suspected concussion should be seen by a healthcare professional as soon as possible. They will usually give instructions to the injured person to return to them or go to hospital immediately if they have a worsening of symptoms such as:

  • Drowsiness when normally awake or cannot be awoken
  • A headache that is getting worse
  • Weakness, numbness or decreases in coordination and balance
  • Repeated vomiting or prolonged nausea
  • Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Increasing confusion, restlessness or agitation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Convulsions
  • Clear fluid coming out of ears or nose
  • Deafness in one or both ears

The information contained in this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for appropriate medical advice or care. If you believe that you or someone under your care has sustained a concussion we strongly recommend that you contact a qualified health care professional for appropriate diagnosis and treatment. The authors have made responsible efforts to include accurate and timely information. However they make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy of the information contained and specifically disclaim any liability in connection with the content on this site.