The South African Rugby Union soared to a landmark target this week when the 10,000th rugby official was trained on the BokSmart national rugby safety programme, proudly sponsored by Absa.
The achievement leaves the BokSmart programme on track to realise its ambitious target of certifying a minimum of 20,000 coaches and referees by end of November, before major new rugby safety regulations come into force at all levels of the game in 2011.
“A year ago no rugby coach or referee had been formally trained in the safe application of the Laws and of training techniques, injury prevention and injury management strategies, so to have come so far, so fast is a major achievement,” said Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
“We’re immensely proud of our BokSmart project and the new regulations to promote safer rugby – some of which has already been implemented. Next year no coach or referee will be able to operate in rugby unless they have been certified on the BokSmart programme.
“That requires thousands of training hours and a huge commitment from the whole rugby community and I’d like to applaud those who have already taken the course and thank our provinces for working so hard to ensure that their coaches and referees come up to speed with BokSmart.”
The key regulations to come into force next year include:
- Provinces, clubs, rugby bodies and schools shall not be allowed to host any match without ensuring that all match officials and participating coaches are BokSmart certified.
- Provinces, clubs, rugby bodies and schools must comply with the BokSmart regulations and ensure that they inform all their members of the regulations and their obligation.
- Provinces, clubs, rugby bodies and schools must ensure that all affiliated match officials and coaches are BokSmart certified and their details recorded.
New BokSmart regulations already in force for the first time this season are:
- Players younger than 18 years old shall not be allowed to play senior rugby (U20 and above) in any position, at any level of rugby under the auspices of SARU or any of its provincial unions, without special waiver.
- Players younger than 19 years old shall not be allowed to play senior rugby (U20 and above) in the front row at any level of rugby under the auspices of SARU or any of its provincial unions, without special waiver.
- Only players who have been identified within the provincial or national structures with the potential to play at elite provincial level or above can apply for a waiver.
“These new regulations are planned to ensure the safety of all rugby players at all levels of play within South Africa,” said Dr Wayne Viljoen, SARU’s BokSmart project manager. “The primary focus is not to soften the game of rugby, but to eliminate unnecessary and avoidable serious or catastrophic head, neck and spine injuries from the game.
“This means preparing well, playing as hard as possible, but playing ‘Smart’ and within the Laws of the game.
“Player safety is one of SARU’s highest priorities and by making it so we will continue to attract more quality players to the game that will keep South Africa placed as a dominant force in World rugby. The introduction of the BokSmart National Rugby Safety programme means that rugby has never been safer! But we’re still appealing to everyone in the game to make sure that all your rugby coaches and referees are BokSmart certified.”
Rugby lovers in KwaZulu-Natal can find out more about the BokSmart programme at the third of four public information sessions spread around the country, which is being held at Absa Stadium in Durban on the evening of July 12.
This information session is free. To register for this session or for more details, contact BokSmart HQ at 021-659 6732, or via email at BokSmart@sarugby.co.za. Seats are limited.