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BokSmart – implementing a National Rugby Safety Programme
  1. W Viljoen1,
  2. J Patricios2
  1. 1South African Rugby Union, Cape Town, South Africa
  2. 2Morningside Sports Medicine, Johannesburg and Section of Sports Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Dr Wayne Viljoen, South African Rugby Union, 5th Floor, Sport Science Institute Building, Boundary Road, Newlands, 7700, Cape Town, South Africa; waynev{at}

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The BokSmart National Rugby Safety Programme is a joint initiative between the South African Rugby Union and the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players Fund aimed at implementing evidence-based sports medicine and exercise research to prevent injury and enhance performance at all levels of rugby union in South Africa.

The BokSmart programme has four main elements:

  • the BokSmart Rugby Safety Workshops, a compulsory DVD-facilitated course that all coaches and referees in SA attend on a biennial basis,

  • the BokSmart Rugby Medic Programme, an entry-level rugby first aid short course aimed at training members of underprivileged rugby-playing communities,

  • the toll-free BokSmart Spineline number, which assists in the management and road transport of head-, neck- and spine-injured rugby players to the nearest appropriate medical facility, and

  • the freely accessible online educational resource, which provides researched documentation and practical advice on a variety of rugby-related topics.

Injury surveillance – a key element

Head and neck trauma form a large part of the injuries associated with contact and collision sport.6 Rugby Union is a collision sport that exposes players to cervical spinal injuries, with permanent disabling injuries being the most serious and highly publicised complication.7 Part of BokSmart's mandate is to record serious and catastrophic head, neck and spine rugby injuries in South Africa (SA), and to formulate appropriate initiatives aimed at prevention of these injuries.4

Even though spinal cord injuries in rugby union are few, there are inherent risks associated primarily with the tackle and scrum6 that are the main contributors to spinal injuries, with scrum injuries consistently being more severe.3,,5 ,7 ,10 Over the last 4 years in SA, these phases contributed to 78% of all serious and catastrophic head, neck and spine injuries in rugby, with …

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