The Blue Card initiative is an important process to ensure player welfare and will be in force from the 2017 Rugby Union Season. This page is intended for ARRA referees.

In addition to Rugby Smart, all ARRA Referees are must complete the Blue Card training and presentation.

Who is it for?

  • Full ARRA members who have advanced from “First Year” referee status
  • The designated referee for the game
  • The referee’s ability to issue a Blue Card ends at the final whistle, it is an “on-field” process



The Blue Card aims to:

  • Enhance player safety and welfare Improve concussion management
  • Support player recovery and long-term health
  • The Blue Card Concussion Initiative extends player welfare protocols
  • It helps everyone in rugby better manage this potentially serious injury
  • It makes it clear to all players and coaching staff of a suspected concussion


Player welfare is NZ Rugby’s priority which is why the Blue Card Concussion Initiative is being implemented by Auckland Rugby.

Concussion can be serious and requires proper rest and management. Referees must issue a Blue Card to players who sustain a head knock during a rugby game and demonstrate symptoms of concussion.

The Blue Card is there to Enhance player safety and welfare and initiate a formal “Return to Play” process for a player who has sustained a concussion or suspected concussion.

It is an “On – Field” process only and can only be issued by a registered / trained referee.

The referee is unable to issue a Blue Card after the final whistle, concussion monitoring is the responsibility of everyone involved in the game and it is expected that Team Management and the playing community assist in this process.

Blue Card Overview – Dr Stephen Kara

The full importance of the Blue Card initiative is explained by Dr Stephen Kara, The Blues and Auckland Rugby’s team doctor:


Auckland Rugby Referee’s Match Officials Manager, Smudge McNeilage, is here to provide an overview of the process and outlines that Referees are being requested to assist in the overview of player welfare:

What Happens Next?

When issued a Blue Card, the player must leave the field of play and cannot return during the match. A substitution can be immediately made. A player, already substituted may return to the field as per Law 3.12 and to “Recognise and Remove” the risk of Concussion to players.

Referees should mark the Team Card indicating a Blue Card has been issued against the player and submit a Serious Injury Report as soon as possible.

Complete the Serious Injury Report and select “Blue Card Issued” under Type of Injury.

Only Referees may select this option.

Players and Team Management

Players and Team Management will then take over the duty of care for themselves and their teammates.

Player Responsibilities:

Team Responsibilities:

Global COmmitment to Player Welfare

Rob Nichol, CEO of the NZ Rugby Players Association (and International Rugby Players Association) and Chief Executive of World Rugby, Brett Gosper, discuss the importance of player safety:

Players from across the world, share the view:

Downloadable Material

More Information

Additional Training:

Further Training can be obtained from your referee coach or match officials manager – you can be put in touch with them through the usual channels.


Smudge McNeilage 09 815 5173
0275 299 244


Cody Neilson 09 815 4818
021 1515379