Congratulations Caldy Rugby Club on promotion
written by Leigh Halfteck Lead Physiotherapist
Caldy Rugby club has been promoted, Chiropractor James Adam and Physiotherapist Leigh Halfteck covered the game working pitch side.
I want to explain what it is like to work behind the scenes of a rugby club. I have worked for a number of teams but I started my career at Manchester Rugby Club (MRC), working there for 7 seasons when they were in the equivalent of the championship and division 1.
The mentality is often very different to when in the clinic. The goal is how can you get someone to compete. Often they are carrying quite serious injuries, but their desire to play in a cup final or in this case a promotion game over-rules. There are very few players playing without any niggles or injuries, they often require a large amount of taping and specific exercises to maintain them for a gruelling season.
It is easy to find a reason why someone is not able to compete, anyone can advise someone to rest for 6 weeks and the injury would heal. The skill is safely keeping someone playing while carrying an injury. I have to stress, this can only be done for a short period of time as there is often a trade off, recovery is needed soon after.
Imagine you pick up an injury one month out from the Olympic games, it will impede your performance and preparation but there is still a chance you can compete. You would take it. This scenario is all too often in sport. From a physiotherapy perspective, it is amazing to be part of a team that assists someone to do something amazing and return safely to competition in record time.
The players often arrive for the game about an hour and a half before kick off, they get any long term injuries assessed and treated, strappings are applied. It is usually controlled chaos at this point. There is often up to half the team needing something and this all has to be done before they head out for warmup.
I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this, it all came flooding back while at Caldy today.
Through the game
You miss everything, all the tries, all the excitement, your job is to see who is getting up off the floor and who, if anyone, is limping and carrying an injury that they have picked up and don’t want to tell the coach for fear of being substituted.
The big concern
You may think that the unconscious patient, with a strong suspicion of a neck injury is the hardest and scariest thing to deal with but you would be wrong, there are very strict protocols to dealing with them. The Rugby Football Union and Rugby Football League have courses that you must attend if you work in Rugby which train you to deal with those situations really well. You are taught to scenario plan and repeat the process over and over, to the point where it is engrained within a small tightly knit team.
The big concern is the player with a suspicion of a head injury. By its very nature the player becomes even more aggressive than usual, they often refuse to be assessed and literally run away from you. You can often tell if they do have a head injury when they run away from you in the opposite direction to the team (this has happened on numerous occasions).
There has been a lot of research conducted on the impact of head injuries in rugby and getting them assessed correctly and returning them safely from injury is very important.
Once you have established there is a head injury you then have a very difficult conversation with the coach. If you and the coach work together regularly you know the subtleties of the job, who does what on game day, if you are covering a game as James and I were doing and you do not know the coach well (Albeit he used to play at MRC when i worked there), you must have a conversation before the game and ask how he would like things run pitch side.
I must stress this did not happen on the day of the game, there were no head injuries, but i just wanted to reiterate a point.
The job is to make sure any injures are dealt with correctly, we used to have an expression that went no beer till your urine is clear – we try to advise on hydration and refuelling.
It is also important the players are doing all they can in the following week to best prepare them for the next game. Injuries can often be cumulative. They pick up a small niggle one week, that means the following week they have that niggle plus any others they pick up. There is only a short period of time that someone can keep doing that without breaking down.