SA Rugby and Ghana Rugby reached a ground-breaking agreement to boost player welfare through sharing BokSmart rugby safety programme information and guidelines to assist in the development of their version of the programme, EagleWise.
The agreement will see Ghana become only the second rugby union on the African continent to categorise player safety and welfare into a separate entity.
The BokSmart programme – which is a joint rugby safety initiative between SA Rugby and the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players' Fund – was launched in South Africa in 2009, with the first complete countrywide exposure to the programme reaching its completion in 2011.
The license agreement gives Ghana Rugby the right to access, adapt, co-brand and distribute material developed by BokSmart subject to specified terms and conditions.
“The BokSmart programme is a key element of the sport in South Africa as the safety of our players is of paramount importance, and we would like to congratulate Ghana Rugby for showing their commitment to this vital cause,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“Since the first roll-out of the BokSmart programme there has been a 63% reduction in all spinal cord injuries at school rugby level and a 52% reduction in permanent catastrophic spinal cord injuries in club rugby, which clearly illustrates the effectiveness of the programme, and we hope to see similar success in Ghana’s structures in the next few years.”
Roux added: “We have a good relationship with our African neighbours and it gives us great pleasure to assist in whichever way we can. Rugby is about unity, team-work and camaraderie, and by working together we can take rugby on the African continent to greater heights.”
Mr Herbert Mensah, President of Ghana Rugby, was equally delighted about the agreement and said: “The issue of player safety and welfare has in recent years become a major strategic focus of World Rugby, and in fact of the rugby community globally.
“Rugby is a contact sport and loved because of that, but with that, there will always be the risk of possible injuries. It only makes good sense to ensure that everything possible is done to minimise those risks. The agreement with SA Rugby is a huge leap forward for Ghana Rugby to do exactly that,” Mr Mensah added.
The senior manager for rugby safety at SA Rugby, Dr Wayne Viljoen, echoed those sentiments.
“Rugby is about men, women, boys and girls who passionately embrace the joy of playing rugby,” said Viljoen.
“It is the duty of those administering the game to do all they can to ensure that these players can keep on enjoying their passion and participating in the game in the safest possible way. BokSmart, and therefore Ghana rugby’s EagleWise Programme, are important mechanisms to achieve that objective.”