Graduated Return to Play

During this stand down period players must complete the Graduated Return to Learn/Work and the Return to Play (GRTP) program. These programs are based on international best practice with the goal of helping players recover and get back to school/work and sport.

An athlete should not go back to sports until they are back to school or work without symptoms getting significantly worse and no longer needing any changes in their schedule.


Rehabilitation Stage Exercise At Each Stage Of Rehabilitation Objective Or Stage Under 19 19 Or Older
1. Rest/No Activity Mental and physical rest
Rest. Avoid any activity that makes your symptoms worse. You may have to avoid screens
2 days 2 days
2. Light Aerobic Exercise Symptom-guided, low to moderate intensity activity such as walking, or stationary cycling Increase heart rate  14 days  14 days
3. Rugby-Specific exercise Running drills, no impact activities Add movement  2 days 1 day
4. Non-Contact Training Drills Progression to move complex training drills: passing, catching, may start doing weight training Exercise, coordination and mental load 2 days 1 day
5. Following Medical Clearance Full Contact Practice May participate in normal training activities (contact training)  Restore confidence and assess function skills by coaching staff  2 days 2 days
6. After 24 Hrs Return To Play Player rehabilitated  recover 1 day  1 day
    Total  23 days  21 days

Graduated Return To Learn

As a concussion is a brain injury the ability of the player to think and process information will also be affected. The athlete may need to miss a few days of school or work after a concussion. When going back to school or work, some athletes may need to:

  1. Go back gradually
  2. Make changes to their schedule so that concussion symptoms do not get worse.

If a particular activity makes symptoms worse, the athlete should stop that activity and rest until symptoms get better.

If the player continues to have symptoms with mental activity, some other things that can help with return to school or work may include:

  • Starting school/work day late, only going for half days, or going to a certain class or doing certain tasks
  • Taking lots of breaks during the day
  • Allowing more time to finish tasks, assignments or tests
  • No more than one exam per day
  • Working in a quiet room
  • Avoiding noisy areas at school or the workplace
  • Use of a student helper/tutor

If at any stage the symptom comes back, players need to return to the previous stage until they are gone. These timeframes are a minimum, sometimes players may need to spend longer in each stage.

Although most players recover within the above timeframes if at 23 or 21 days you are still having concussion symptoms we encourage you to seek further medical treatment.

Mental Activity

Activity at Each Step

  1. Goal of Each Step

1. Daily activities that do not give the athlete symptoms

Typical activities that the athlete does during the day as long as they do not increase symptoms (e.g. reading, texting, screen time). Start with 5-15 min at a time and gradually build up

Gradual return to typical activities

2. School/work activities

Homework, reading or other cognitive activities outsides of classroom

Increase tolerance to cognitive work

3. Return to school/work part-time

Gradual introduction of school/work. May need to start with a partial school/ work day or with increased breaks during the day.

Increased academic activities

4. Return to school/work full-time

Gradually progress school/work activities until a full day can be tolerated

Return to full academic / work activities and catch up on missed work

Concussion return guidelines