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What Is Player Welfare?

One of the core values at Railway is fostering the health and well-being of our players and placing their physical and mental health above all other considerations.  

Ensuring our players’ fitness and health are maintained during their rugby careers at Railway is important to us and that this is approached as professionally as possible.  

To this end, we have a very strong and active Player Welfare team.  Indeed, the Head of Player Welfare at Railway has the final call on availability of players for selection for any team in Railway, overriding the player, coaches and Director of Rugby.

Player Welfare is a key part of modern Rugby Union and, as a distinct entity, its value has only become recognised in recent times not only in professional rugby but in all progressive clubs.

The Player Welfare team has responsibility for addressing all aspects to do with the physical, psychological and personal well-being of the club’s players and this can be sub-divided under three headings:  Preparation, Match Day Requirements and Post-Match Day Requirements. 

Preparation

This consists of delivering injury and illness prevention lectures for players/coaches/management, conducting entry medicals for new players, screening of ‘at risk’ players, nutrition and hygiene advice, use of early warning questionnaires to identify over-training/potential for injury, maintaining injury/illness databases to monitor trends and alert staff to the need to make appropriate interventions in training, planning fixtures, pre-season and in-season, which are player welfare-friendly, monitoring Strength and Conditioning, and ensuring the club adheres to the IRB and IRFU guidelines on player welfare and injury-specific management.

Match Day

The Match Day requirements include ensuring a match day medical team is in place and that they have the equipment to ensure the match day requirements for players are provided. 

Post-Match Day

The Post-Match Day requirements include generating referral pathways for post-match care (acute/emergency, advanced diagnostics such as CT/MRI/Ultrasound, secondary chronic and continuing care), providing weekly medicals to monitor player injuries and provide feedback to club coaches and the Director of Rugby on the availability, or likelihood of same, of injured players for selection.

The Player Welfare team also develops strategies for managing common or 'themed' problems. 

Functional Screening Programme

Functional strength and adequate conditioning is a key element in any successful rugby team and the Player Welfare team are responsible for functional strength analysis and conditioning for all Railway teams.  This is an area that receives much focus in the professional game.

The functional screening programme helps to identify areas of potential weakness relevant to rugby and where remedial work is needed.  By working on this with our players, the Player Welfare team prepare programs to make them 'functionally strong' to play rugby, as opposed to the common mistake of doing a body-building routine or 'beach weights'.  This makes them strong for rugby, makes them better players and helps them avoid injury.

This process starts with a full functional assessment to identify areas of potential weakness.  A functional strength programme is devised, either team, position of player-specific depending on the result of the functional assessment.  This will include the best exercises based on skill levels to avoid injury, maximize gains, and ensure each player is optimally trained to unlock potential.

Monitoring and re-testing takes place during the season.