Minister for Youth and Sports

Address at the Oceania Rugby Match Officials course at the Grand Pacific Hotel, SUVA on 4 November 2018 at 9:00 a.m.

• Oceania and Fiji Rugby officials and representatives
• Facilitators
• Provincial referees, participants
• Invited Guests
• Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula vinaka, Namaste, Salaam aleikum and good morning to you all.

I am honoured to be invited to address you all the facilitators and participants of the World Rugby Immediate Care in Rugby (ICIR) Level 2 Workshop and I commend World Rugby and Oceania Rugby for such an important initiative which recognises the risk of injuries or of medical emergency during match play or training activities.

This workshop will of course raise the bar on how we react to on-field emergencies during games and also offer more enhancement on the care of our rugby players.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fijian Government’s commitment to host the Oceania Rugby Championships is a true reflection of the recognition and commitment of the Government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to develop sports in the country.

Sports such as rugby play an important role in Oceania and we have witnessed how it can bring people together and set our differences aside.

While focusing on the game itself many of us tend to oversee the dangers the players face in a high contact game rugby is.

One thing is for certain – players of the sport are getting bigger and faster. The laws of physics tell us that the force of a tackle, or hit, depends on three factors: body weight, speed and how quickly the players stop moving. This is part of the thrill of rugby, the ‘big hits’ and that is what excites and makes the game such a spectacle.

But with such heavy players creating such immense forces, the risk of injury is high. In top level rugby alone an average of 221 tackles per game in top-¬level rugby games has been recorded and this has led to a rise in numbers of reported concussions.

This workshop you are attending today on the other hand Ladies and Gentlemen will enable you to improve your provision of immediate trauma and medical care to players, facilitating not only a reduction in the morbidity and mortality, but also a rewarding satisfaction to the providers of such care.

The fourteen modules that are part of this programme are designed to address all aspects of scenarios that you may encounter in real life situations.

It will more importantly enhance your knowledge and skills as field of play practitioners, standardising your approach, assessment and delivery of care to players.

There is a clearly a need for doctors and other professionals looking after athletes and teams to be personally equipped with the skills and the equipment required to enable the delivery of immediate care.

Not only do these professionals need to be prepared on match/event days but also at training venues and grounds where a significant numbers of injuries or medical problems also occur.

As the Government agency mandated to oversee the development of sports in the country, my Ministry fully support this drive for more awareness on the delivery of care to players, not only in rugby but for all sports.

We also recognise the efforts of World Rugby to address this all important issues in Tier Two and Tier Three nations or developing rugby nations.

Most often the issue of ‘on or off’ field injuries in developing rugby nations are overlooked and only come to light when an incident occurs and only so when there is a fatality.
As unpleasant as it is to talk about, accidents and emergency situations are not completely preventable or unavoidable. This is why it is very important for you as first responders to possess skills and equipment required to facilitate the delivery of immediate care to our sports men and women who may suffer a time critical life or limb threatening injury or medical condition.

On the same note, such workshops also help us to improve our standards – objectively raising them to meet international standards.

I encourage you all Ladies and Gentleman to make the most of this workshop as it will definitely assist you while attending to matches locally and internationally.

I hope that the facilitators will enjoy our hospitality and the tournament that is ready on our doorstep as some teams have already arrived. I am confident that you will all enjoy your stay in Fiji and will be ready to return to Fiji in the near future as facilitators or on vacation.

With those words I wish you all the best.

Vinaka, Dhanyavaad, Shokran and thank you all.