Health, Safety, Injury

Health and safety are two fundamental, extremely important aspects of the Fort Hunt Rugby program.

USA Rugby Medical and Safety Guide

First of all, all Fort Hunt Rugby players must register with USA Rugby, to be covered under their insurance program.  No one plays until they are registered with USA Rugby.

Second, no player may participate in Fort Hunt Rugby practices or matches unless they are registered through Fort Hunt Sports.  This is not about money; this is a requirement of the association insurance…the fee also pays for the program.


All high school players, both boys and girls, are strongly encouraged to have a valid physical exam.  This is not a requirement.  If getting a physical, please use the VHSL physical form and provide a copy to your Fort Hunt Rugby coach.

The Minute Clinic in the CVS pharmacy at the Belle View shopping center offers walk-in physicals for approximately $50.  Individuals must bring the blank VHSL physical form and full ID for the parent/guardian and child.  Bringing the child’s shot record is a good idea.

Doctors Express on Route 1 near Dunkin Donuts does sports physicals for $30.  Parents must bring the blank VHSL form and the child’s shot record: Doctors Express of Mt. Vernon, 7609B Richmond Highway, 703-347-9440.

Both players and parents must inform the Fort Hunt Rugby coaching staff of existing physical/medical conditions, player restrictions, allergies, medications, and all other issues that could affect the health or performance of their Fort Hunt Rugby player.  This includes discussion/disclosure of medications and prior injuries.  This is part of the FHYAA Rugby registration process.  All information is held in strict confidence.


Fitness: The best way to avoid injury in sports is to be fit to begin with.

  • A fit player is less likely to be injured.
  • A fit player is a leader.
  • A fit player will play longer, in training and in matches.
  • A fit player is a better asset to his/her team, and enhances the team’s chances of success.
  • A fit player will be more engaged in practices, and therefore will learn more, and more quickly.
  • A more fit player will be chosen to start in matches over a less-fit player.
  • A fit player will be more engaged in matches, and therefore will be up with play, will play longer, have greater impact, and therefore have more fun and a better overall experience.
  • A fit player is much more likely to be seen by select side coaches and is more likely to be chosen for select side and representational teams.

Part of the Fort Hunt Rugby player’scoach’s and parent/spectator’s codes of conduct is the pledge not to use tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drugs while engaged in Fort Hunt Rugby activities. This includes both practices and matches as well as team meetings, socials, etc, at home and away.  Use of any of these will adversely affect one’s health.

This alcohol/tobacco/drug policy includes parents/spectators.  Specifically, no parent/spectator may use tobacco or alcohol at or near training or playing areas.  If you need to smoke, dip, or drink, you must find another location to do so.

Hydration and prevention of heat injuries is very important:

  • Players are the first line of defense, responsible to properly prepare themselves for practicing and playing, and are responsible for monitoring themselves as they participate.  Hydration at training and matches helps, but proper hydration and nutrition well prior to training and matches is the best approach.  Water at practice is sometimes provided by coaching staff but is a player responsibility.  Water at matches is a club responsibility.
  • Parents also must monitor all participants for signs of heat injury.
  • Coaches will actively monitor all players, and will adjust workout times/playing periods and breaks to account for heat and the need for hydration and rest.


Safety is our #1 priority for youth rugby players.  It is especially important for rugby as it is a collision sport.

Training/Game Conduct: Coaches and referees will work together to ensure safe training and match environments, to include the ground, obstacles/hazards, and the maintenance and reliability of equipment.

A personally fitted mouthguard is mandatory for all players engaging in tackle rugby training or matches.  Players without a mouthguard will not play.

Both students and parents can get a personally fitted, professional-grade mouthguard through the Dental Careers folks at the West Potomac Academy, only $25. Click here for the page one of the West Potomac Academy personally fitted mouthguard form. Click here for page 2.

Fields: Coaches have the primary responsibility to ensure fields and field equipment (posts, flags, pads) are suitable and safe for play.

Weather: We practice and play in the rain (field status permitting); this is rugby, after all.  But ALL activities stop in the event of thunder OR lightning.  All training and play halts immediately if thunder or lightning is detected, by anyone.  This is non-negotiable.

In the event of a thunder/lightning call, all club members–players, coaches and parents/supporters alike–must follow coaches’ directions and take appropriate shelter under grounded structures or in automobiles, and not on the field, under a canopy, under trees, etc.  Players and parents/spectators are REQUIRED to follow coaches’ instructions in these situations.  A 20-minute clock begins at the sign of thunder or lightning, and resets to zero for all subsequent events.  After 20 minutes of lightning- and/or thunder-free weather, activities may resume.

Lightning Safety


We do our best to keep all players training and playing in control, but injuries unfortunately are inevitable.

Players MUST inform the coaching staff immediately if they consider themselves to be injured or unable to fully participate in training or match play.  Coaches will not employ a player who is injured.

Fort Hunt Rugby provides certified trainers for all home matches.  When travelilng, the host team provides the same.

The most common rugby injuries are bumps, bruises and scrapes, usually on elbows, knees, and/or hands. These will be treated on-site, in consultation with the player’s parent(s) (if present), and in the best judgment of the coaches.  Players may be approved to continue practice/play immediately, but coaches reserve the right to require the player to sit out the rest of the event for rest/recuperation; players also may be directed to return home to seek medical attention.  Return to play will be based on the player’s feedback, parents’ input, and the judgment of the coaching staff.  Return to play is a coach decision, and is final.

Less common but possible, and more serious injuries are cuts and gashes, or deep bruises.  These will be treated first on-site by coaching staff and with parental consultation (if present), and usually will be referred to parent-accompanied immediate professional medical treatment.  Emergency services may be summoned to the site.  A player with such injuries usually will be done training or playing for that event.  Returning to play (after such injury has been treated and is considered healed) will be based on the player’s feedback, parents’ input, the judgment of the coaching staff, and a physician’s input, where appropriate.

All dental injuries involving loose, chipped, cracked or missing teeth will be referred immediately to emergency professional medical/dental treatment (in consultation with the parents), and may include the summoning of emergency services to the site.  A player with such an injury will be done for that event.  Returning to play (after such injury has been fully treated) will be based on the player’s feedback, parents’ input, the judgment of the coaching staff, and direct, written physician/dentist input.

Major injuries, such as a major cut/gash, joint dislocation, or broken bone, will be treated immediately, and in consultation with the player’s parents, and will be referred to immediate professional medical treatment, to include the summoning of emergency services to the site.  Emergency medical services may be summoned to the site, depending on the injury.  A player with such an injury is done for that event and will require professional medical clearance in writing to return to training/play.

Head Injuries/Concussion.  Any player who loses consciousness or who has discernible (trainer, EMT, and/or coaching staff determination, per CDC checklist/guidelines, assisted by medical professionals, if present) loss of focus or cognitive awareness will be assessed on-site for possible head injury.  All players suffering a possible head injury will be immediately pulled from training or a match and may not resume participation until the coaching staff has been notified formally (in writing) that a professional medical examination has cleared that player to return to play.

For formal, medically diagnosed concussions, and for all instances in which a player loses consciousness (whether a concussion is diagnosed or not), that player is restricted from all training and all match play for a period of minimum three weeks (21 days).  This is long-established policy and is not negotiable.  Even if formally medically cleared during the three-week period, a player may not return to training or play until the three-week period is over and may return to training and play only with formal/written clearance from a medical professional.

Returning to Play: After an injury, the sole decision for return to play rests with the coaching staff, ultimately with the head coach and Fort Hunt Rugby commissioner.  We will take into account all factors, including a player’s willingness to return, parents’ recommendations, and professional medical input.  The overriding factor will be the player’s health and safety.  A player will never be rushed to return to either training or play, and should feel no pressure to do so, from coaches, parents, or peers.

Check out “When It’s More than a Headache,” an excellent New York Times story on the youth head injuries, from September 2009.