Codes and Policies
In 2018 four young men suffered serious spinal injuries whilst engaging in rugby activities. A Serious Injury Review Panel was appointed to review these incidents and a Final Report has been published with recommendations to the GPS schools.
Between 13 July and 4 August 2018, four young men engaged in rugby activities and attending GPS schools suffered serious spinal injuries. The four incidents, which resulted in these injuries, were unrelated and dissimilar. However, each of them involved fit young men engaged in the sport of rugby. Each incident is, to different degrees, a tragedy for the young men and their families. The young men are Oliver Beirhoff [18 years of age], James Kleidon , Connor Tweedy  and Alexander Clark .
The fact that four young rugby players suffered such injuries within a period of one month demands attention. Indeed, throughout Australia, there had been a vast improvement in player safety, especially involving serious spinal injuries since the introduction of Smart Rugby (in Australia) as well as other improvements having been made focused on prevention of serious injuries in the game.
It is understandable and sensible that the GPS schools, Rugby Australia and the QRU resolved to review these incidents in order to assess whether there are lessons to be learned from which they may improve player safety in the future. To undertake that review, those bodies resolved to appoint a panel of five, including an independent chair and four experienced contributors to the game.
The Serious Injury Review Panel was appointed on 20 September 2018 to report, including with any recommendations for change, by 29 November 2018.
The Panel sought information and submissions from the four young men and their families and provided an invitation to each of the families to meet with the Panel. Submissions were also sought from each of the GPS schools, the QRU and Rugby AU. The Panel offered the schools an opportunity to attend and discuss the issues at hand, and meetings took place.
The Panel undertook other investigations to properly assess the incidents, the hazards and the present state of knowledge for player safety as well as to consider and resolve upon steps that might be recommended in order to improve safety for GPS school boys in the future.
The Panel resolved upon making the following recommendations to the GPS schools:
(a) together as one, consider and, where appropriate, change the way rugby is offered to the young men of the GPS schools so that “best practice” is followed as recommended by Rugby Australia and the QRU;
(b) each school review the insurance maintained by them to cover the risk of the young men of the GPS schools suffering serious injury;
(c) each school devise and resolve upon a protocol to follow should any other young man of the GPS schools suffer serious injury so that his family may be relieved of the administrative burdens involved while supporting their son through the tragedy.
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