Police are continuing to investigate a complaint laid after a former Bay of Plenty Steamers hooker was knocked out during a rugby match last weekend.
Te Puke Sports player Simon Chisholm spent two nights in Tauranga Hospital suffering from a severe concussion caused by bruising on the brain.
The player was “king hit” during a premier-grade game in which another player is accused of walking over during a verbal altercation between two players and punching Chisholm in the side of the head.
The force of the alleged hit cut the victim’s ear and left him concussed.
Simon’s father Hugh Chisholm later filed a complaint with police.
Police say they are investigating the matter and charges may be laid.
Bay of Plenty Rugby Union chief executive Mike Rogers says there is no place for violence in rugby.
Mike says all rugby coaches/referees complete a mandatory ACC RugbySmart course prior to the start of the season.
“The course also provides information for all coaches. As part of this course there are details regarding concussions. Club teams also have team doctors to assist.”
Mike says people wanting to learn more about the course can visit http://www.coachingtoolbox.co.nz/rugbysmart/injury-management/.
“At the ITM Cup (Steamers) level, we have a team doctor that ensures we complete concussion tests on any players who may be considered to be concussed.
“We have over 3500 registered players over the age of 13 playing on any given Saturday. The number of players suffering a concussion, or other serious injuries, from playing rugby is a very small percentage of the 3500.”
However, Mike says there is a risk of this occurring given rugby is a contact sport.
“We are working very hard to ensure we minimise any risk of injury. This is being achieved through the education programmes in place for our coaches, referees and players.”
He says any police investigation is separate from the judicial committee and the union has a judicial process in place to deal with incidents of this nature.
Each week around 146,000 people play rugby in New Zealand.
A concussion is defined as a disturbance of the brain after a blow or violent shaking of the head.
Symptoms of a concussion include temporary unconsciousness, headache, memory loss, vomiting and nausea.
Medical professionals are concerned rugby players are taking knocks to the head, possibly leaving them with concussion, and then heading back out onto the field where they could potentially get hit in the head again.
The Accident Compensation Corporation and the International Rugby Board require players to be stood down for three weeks following a concussion.
A recent study of the Rugby World Cup shows seven of the 13 players who suffered possible concussions returned to play in the next game.
According to the study, led by Massey University neuropsychologist Professor Janet Leathem, out of the 48 games played, 13 players suffered probably concussions, six were taken off the field and seven continued playing.
An International Rugby Board spokesman said the board and its member unions took concussion extremely seriously.
The IRB had consulted union medics and independent experts as part of research and policy making in this important area, he said.