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Ghana and South Africa sign understanding on rugby player welfare cooperation

By Vincent Ashitey
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Ghana Rugby and the South Africa Rugby Union (SARU) signed a historical agreement whereby SARU approved the use of material from its BokSmart ( player safety and welfare programme by Ghana Rugby as part of its own version of the programme, EagleWise.

According to the President of Ghana Rugby, Mr Herbert Mensah, the agreement is historical in the sense that Ghana will only be the second rugby union on the African continent that has separated player safety and welfare into a separately branded unit.

“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 SARU is a huge leap forward for Ghana Rugby to do exactly that,” Mensah said.

Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby congratulated Ghana Rugby on its decision to partner with the BokSmart programme in the interest of player safety.

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The senior manager for rugby safety at SARU, Dr Wayne Viljoen, explained: “Rugby is about men, women, boys and girls who passionately embrace the joy of playing Rugby. It is the duty of those administering the game of Rugby 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,” Viljoen said.

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 National Rugby Safety Programme – a joint rugby safety initiative between SA Rugby and the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund – kicked off officially in South Africa in 2009.

The philosophy of the BokSmart Programme is summed up by the following statement, “Rugby safety is no accident. It is a decision. A commitment. Together, we can build a game of Rugby that delivers zero catastrophic injuries. In fact, we not only ‘can’ do it. We MUST do it.”

According to Board Member Rian Malan, who has been charged to spearhead the initial development and implementation of the Ghana Rugby EagleWise player safety and welfare programme, the enormous task at hand has been made easier with the signing of the agreement between SARU and Ghana rugby.

“BokSmart has developed into one of the most comprehensive player safety and welfare programmes internationally since its launch in 2009. A developing rugby union like Ghana Rugby just does not have the resources to start such an initiative from scratch. The access we now have to BokSmart material will go a long way in helping us to fulfil our duty,” Malan said.

About Ghana Rugby

Ghana Rugby is the official full member of both World Rugby (2017) and Rugby Africa in Ghana-West Africa and is responsible for the management and development of the Game Rugby Union in the country. The Union is governed by a Constitution and administers five KPAs (Key Performance Areas) namely: (1) Youth Development & Growth through the World Rugby “Get Into Rugby” Programme, (2) Women in Ghana Rugby, (3) Training & Education, (4) Domestic Competitions and (5) International Performance.