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Return2Play – Ensuring the highest standards of care at RPNS7

07 Jan 2020

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Return2Play is the Official Medical Partner of the 2020 Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools 7s.

Rosslyn Parks HSBC National Schools 7s takes the welfare of participants extremely seriously and continues to raise the level of medical provision available at the tournament.

Return2Play is the leading provider of sports medicine services for schools and this will be the 4th year they have taken on this role at Rosslyn Park. Their doctors, physios and paramedics will be providing their expert care across the site throughout the tournament.

We talked to Dr Sam Barke, Medical Director of Return2Play and tournament Chief Medical Officer since 2018, about the work he and his team have been doing to ensure all injured players receive the highest standards of care.

RP: How did you get involved with RPNS7s? 
SB: The majority of Return2Play’s clients are schools and most of those play at Rosslyn Park so it made sense for us to be there. On top of that, a significant proportion of our team played at the tournament when they were at school, had happy memories of the event, and were keen to be involved in some way.

RP: Feedback from schools about the care received by the Return2Play team has been extremely impressive. What have you done to achieve this?
SB: I and a couple of our doctors shadowed the medical team at the 2017 tournament. The medical team were excellent and there was no doubt that they were providing good first aid but we quickly saw that if we had the right expertise available, there was an opportunity to treat more injuries on-site rather than patching them up and sending them off to hospital. Everything we have introduced since then has really been about allowing that to happen. Obviously, the main point of that is to provide better care to the injured player, but it also removes the stress for coaches and parents of having to manage a trip to A&E (particularly if they are not a local school) and I think they appreciate that a lot.

RP: What specific changes have been made since 2017?
SB: We added sports doctors to the medical points at the Asda/Wimbledon and RE Pitches to join the paramedics and first-aiders already there as well as a “roaming” doctor to see more serious injuries on the pitch. Introduction of an electronic injury report system not only meant that coaches had a clear record of that had happened to their players, along with management advice, but also meant we could review injury data in real time and redirect resources across the week. After the 2018 tournament that allowed us to show that adding a permanent medical point on the Merton pitches (with another sports doctor and team) and having physiotherapists at each medical point to assess and treat musculoskeletal injuries would be beneficial. Both of those changes were made for the 2019 tournament.

RP: Any changes for this year’s tournament?
SB: The on-site setup will be very similar to last year apart from the addition of a medical team by the main pitch (RE1). The big addition this year will be an “on-call” doctor for non-local teams staying in nearby hotels. Looking after injured players away from home can be stressful for coaches and we hope that having a doctor available to speak to for advice or to visit if necessary, will further add to the level of care provided to players and also make coaches’ lives easier.

RP: What are you looking forward to most about this year’s tournament?
SB: It’s extremely busy for the medical team (around 100 injuries a day being seen) but all of our team consistently feed back how much they enjoy it. As a rugby lover myself, it is great to be able to watch good rugby from enthusiastic players. Having worked with schools for a number of years now it’s also a great opportunity to catch up with old friends.

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