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Is sports safety policy being translated into practice: what can be learnt from the Australian rugby union Mayday procedure?


Aim To investigate the level of translation of the Australian Rugby Union ‘Mayday’ safety procedure into practice among community rugby union coaches in New South Wales (Australia).

Methods All registered coaches of senior community rugby union teams in five zones/associations in the north-eastern region of the state were invited to complete a short online questionnaire at the end of the 2010 rugby season. The questionnaire was designed around the five RE-AIMdimensions and assessed: Reach, perceived Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance of the Mayday procedure.

Results Seventy (39%) coaches participated. There was a high level of awareness of the Mayday procedure, and most coaches believed it was effective in preventing injuries. The majority reported training their players in the procedure, although training was generally infrequent. Coaches were confident that their own players could implement the procedure appropriately if required to do so, but less confident that other teams or referees could do so. Barriers to providing training included not enough players at training, players not taking training seriously and technical difficulties (eg, verbalisation of instructions for physical tasks).

Conclusion The findings suggest that the translation of the Mayday ‘policy’ could be improved by building individual coach, and club or zone organisational capacity by ensuring that coaches have the resources and skills in ‘how’ to train their players to complement their existing knowledge on ‘what’ to train them; setting expectations that encourage coaches to provide regular training for players; and regular monitoring of player competency to perform the procedure appropriately.

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