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Rugby Premiership: Independent doctors to be at all games from 2019-20

Independent doctors will be at all Premiership games from this season to help enforce concussion protocol.

They will assist club doctors with head injury assessments and have the final say on whether a player can continue.

The system has been in place for some time in international rugby and will now be at Premiership Rugby Cup and home European matches.

It has been funded by the 12 English top-flight clubs and Newcastle, who are also a Premiership shareholder.

“This new initiative continues the evolution of our player welfare strategy,” said Matt Cross, Premiership Rugby’s research and development manager.

“Our clubs are at the forefront of the latest player welfare initiatives and with us, will continue to drive world-class standards in the care of our players.”

The latest audit – for the 2017-18 season – showed the number of concussions suffered by players in Premiership rugby games fell, although the average length of absence was higher than before.

However concussion remained the most commonly reported injury that season with 140.

The independent doctor will be responsible for decisions regarding blood and head injury replacements, overseeing assessments and collaborating with club equivalents.

The new Premiership campaign begins on Friday, 18 October when Bristol Bears host local rivals Bath.