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Thread: Deaf Rugby....what?

      
  1. #41

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    Wireless,

    Welcome to the forums, and in fantastic style may I say, I don't think I've ever seen a better opening post.

    I would love to make your post an article on the main site, are you happy for me to use it as is, or would you like to make a new one that tells the referee world about deaf rugby from an uneducated point of view?
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  2. #42

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    Fascinating and informative, Wireless. I'm really glad you chose to participate.

    I had never thought to wonder whether a BTE hearing aid was being worn under a scrum cap. You're not quite correct in asserting that a referee may not ask for a legal item of clothing to be removed - the referee can only assess whetehr it is legal by checking the iRB logo on the label, and the label is often hidden inside. But it would certainly be an unusual move as regards headgear (I have done it; a player rocked up with a boxing headguard, which I disallowed due to its lack of an iRB logo).

    The BTE device does seem to me to be prone to damage during a game, and who'd want to be a lock forward in a scrum wearing one? Also, if caught in the middle of a head to head clash, I imagine it may hurt the wearer rather more than the clash itself might do; I wonder if it is possible or desirable for the electronics to be located within the headgear itself, with research determining the location least prone to accidental damage?
    Don't feed the pedant!

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    Robert Burns, I'm quite happy to take your advice on this, if you feel one or other format has a greater reading value.

  4. #44

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    My feeling is that your original post is more informative towards the questions posed by referees in this thread.

    Could you post here about how Deaf rugby is developing, what players, officials and coaches can do to help, how people can get involved and also a contact for yourself for others reading the post that are not English.

    Include as many of the excellent relevant points you raised in your original post as possible.

    I will then make it a front page article tomorrow morning.

    If you need any further support from RugbyRefs.com feel free to send me an email, always happy to help a rugby cause!
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  5. #45
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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    Dixie,

    Generally front row and second row players do not normally elect to wear hearing aids, for obvious reasons of comfort in what is a contact area, although I've seen one or two do so.

    As regards injuries, I've never seen any injuries either occurring more frequently to the Pinna (outside fleshy part of the ear) or more severely from the wearing of BTE Hearing Aids by Deaf Players wearing them under Scrum Caps, certainly my son has played the game for eight years and only had slight bruising in a Colts game, but then the Prop did land on my sons head and he would have bruised anyway. Frankly, bruised ears would seem a rather common rugby related injury that is otherwise unavoidable, whether you wear BTE Hearing Aids or not.

    My own son has only ever lost his aids on a field, they have never been damaged by play, or contact, and believe it or not he only started wearing a Scrum Cap for two reasons, the primary one was rain damage during a game, the secondary one was a desire to hide them, but only after we had a Referee come up to see us prior to a Colts game and asked what the rules were on Hearing Aids as he didn't know, you can imagine I didn't give an answer that would have seen my son not get a game.

    The type of clash that would hurt a player would involve coming in from the side at a ruck or maul, which hopefully a Referee would stop anyway, as its unlikely a head on clash would be more than a glancing blow to the side of a Scrum Cap, in open play, the most likely contact to the side of the head is from a forearm, but then this would very likely be as a part of high tackle, and although would happen too quickly for a Referee to stop, would still be an unlikely event.

    It would be fantastic to get a Hearing Instrument Company to design something to house electronics like you suggest, but with such a small market, so few Deaf Rugby Players, I can't see this happenning, and with so few Deaf Players actually playing the game I think the risk of injury is insignificant, and would be a decision of risk for the Player, as only the person wearing the device would get injured.

    Indeed, part of the RFU evidence will probably include Cochlear Implant wearers, who are currently advised not to wear their external apparatus while playing, but who are at an increased risk of injury that might lose them their hearing if the subcutaneous (under the skin) internal parts are damaged. The RFU considers a modification of the current padding thickness greater than the .5cm over these areas of the skull for players who have such an implant.

    If the RFU proposes a modification in padding for one type of Deaf Player, then the wearing of BTE Hearing Aids under a Scrum Cap by another Deaf Player, possibly with additional padding proposed by the RFU, is definitely on the cards.

    With miniturisation of Hearing Aids being an ongoing technology, making specific references to the location of electronics within head gear is always going to be playing catch up, I suggest the risk is tiny and will get progressively less with time.

    I hope that helps.

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    Robert,

    I'll try to put together my best prose and include the areas you've suggested, but if there's any more specific areas of interest can others please ask before I start the 'article', I'll give it a few hours before I start writing anything in case there's any responses that need covering. I may need longer than tomorrow as I'm videoing a local game this evening.

    Please remember that I'm not a Referee, although did cover a touch line once or twice in my youth.

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    Deaf Rugby...what?

    Many of you won't have had exposure to Deaf Rugby Players playing the game, yet I think it is important that you should at least be aware that within the games you officiate there are players otherwise able-bodied that might have a disability.

    I'm not writing this as someone with a Refereeing background, with the intent to make you aware of how better to ensure everyone plays the game within the Laws and Regulations, or give you insights into how you can better detect rule breaking; I'm just the parent, and a former amateur rugby player, of a deaf teenager who one day asked if he could play rugby. That was back in September 2004.

    Today, writing this in late August 2011, he's 20 years old, and although currently recovering from a shoulder operation, he has won two Caps representing England Deaf Rugby, and the RFU. It's been a long road I can tell you, with many disappointments of experiencing a glass ceiling within the sport, which we can only attribute to his hidden disability, but along the way we might just have accrued a bit of wisdom that might be relevant to the game, and perhaps you, the Referee.

    The history of Deaf Rugby

    Deaf rugby players have been playing Union (and League) since the game started to be played, deaf or hard of hearing people are not a new phenomenon, they've been a part of Society and the sport since humans first walked the planet.

    Since the 1970s, when Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids became available, they've been playing the game wearing them, although with the wider use of the Scrum Cap its probably been less noticeable, certainly after 2000. They were playing alongside hearing players as team mates, and a part of the team based on merit and ability.

    In the 1990's deaf players started playing the game in New Zealand, forming a couple of deaf teams and playing for fun, this became an unrecognised New Zealand Deaf Rugby Union in 1991. Soon after then, I'm not sure exactly whether there was any contact with New Zealand, but a similar thing took place in Wales, with two teams forming containing all deaf players, again playing for fun.

    In 1995 an unrecognised (by the IRB) New Zealand Deaf side formed and decided on a tour to South Africa, and played an unrecognised South African Deaf side. During the tour the two unrecognised Unions decided to form the International Deaf Rugby Organisation (also unrecognised), with a view to running a Deaf Rugby World Championships.

    In 1998, in Cardiff RUFC, Wales, at a meeting of five unrecognised International Deaf Rugby Unions; England, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and Wales, founded IDRO as an organisation, and prepared to organise a Deaf Rugby World Championship in 2002, again unrecognised. A sixth unrecognised Union, Australia, got lost in traffic around Cardiff.

    IDRO formed with the intention of gaining IRB recognition, but never bothered to do so; one problem may have been the use of the word International within IDRO's title, but certainly an existing World Governing Body would not have taken kindly to a fait accompli of having both an Organisation to recognise when it had no means to ensure it was being run properly, and not only that but a duplication of itself and every existing National Union, without each existing Union being able to ensure that Deaf Unions were being run properly either.

    The first IDRO 2002 Deaf Rugby World Championship and IDRO 2002 Deaf Rugby Sevens World Championship took place in New Zealand at almost the same time. There were just three International Sides in the 15 man Competition, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand, and Wales won it and still retain the Cup. In the Sevens Competition, a fourth team entered from Japan and the eventual winners were Australia. England didn't actually form a Deaf side until 2003.

    IDRO then lost its way, it failed to progress towards IRB recognition, and failed to maintain any communications with Deaf Unions, even New Zealand Deaf, despite IDRO being based in that country. Deaf Unions stopped paying membership subscriptions, and arranged their own games and regional tournaments, and under IDRO rules if you stop paying you aren't a member. IDRO finally stopped operating altogether in August 2005.

    England (England Deaf Rugby Union or EDRU – still a registered UK Charity), Wales (Wales Deaf Rugby Union or WDRU – was a charity), and Scotland (Scotland Deaf Rugby Team or SDRT – was a charity), still arranged their own fixtures, and played each other each season.

    The EDRU slowly built its reputation, and eventually played the Estonia Elite XV in August 2009 at Folkestone RUFC, Kent, winning the game 26-21. Estonia was a newly recognised Union by the IRB, and the EDRU were their first 'International' friendly. They still want a re-match in Estonia.

    The RFU took an interest in the game, and the EDRU, and after some negotiations the RFU adopted the squad as its Deaf Representative side, renaming the squad England Deaf to follow the naming convention of England Representative sides. However, the RFU made the EDRU an Associate Membership of the RFU, and delegated the management, training, and selection of England Deaf squad to the EDRU. This will include some ongoing oversight and support by the RFU, and should mean that England Deaf are eligible for RFU Funding.

    With recognition by the RFU, this gave immediate IRB recognition of England Deaf as an International side. It also signals an end to any future involvement with IDRO, since if it organises any event, England Deaf won't be able to participate as IDRO isn't IRB recognised.

    Everyone within Deaf Rugby is aware that IDRO is the past, and is over, and all International Deaf Rugby sides are either in current negotiations, or will start negotiations soon with their home unions to follow the route England Deaf have taken, and become IRB recognised. Currently I'm aware that Wales (WDRU) are in negotiations with the WRU, and Australia (ADRU) are in similar negotiations with the ARU. In addition, Scotland (SDRT) and Argentina (ARSA) intend to start negotiations with the SRU and UAR respectively.

    As it stands, England and Wales have well established sides, Scotland sometimes struggles to field a side (especially away), and Ireland have been trying to form a squad over the last season or so, France are looking to reform, but Italy already have a Squad, all that is missing is appropriate funding and we may well have a Six Nations Deaf Rugby Tournament within a season or two.

    I'm confident of this because the RFU, who recognise that England Deaf is currently the only branch of the RFU that encompasses disability and the ethos of Sport for All, made a Bid for the 2015 RWC to the IRB which included the intention to ask all participating nations to bring with them a Deaf Representative Squad to play in a Deaf Rugby World Tournament or Cup (they haven't decided on Tournament or Cup), running alongside the Elite 2015 RWC.

    The net effect will be some form of Annual Nations Tournament in preparation for the DRWT or DRWC in 2015, as all of the participating nations recognise Deaf Representative Teams, and a legacy of Annual Tournaments beyond that.

    So far, I've no idea of the future regarding a Deaf Rugby Sevens Tournament, but no doubt someone will decide that it's well overdue and approach the IRB regarding a Bidding process to stage such an event.

    In terms of England Deaf, its possible that Regional Trials might be introduced for future Squad selection, due to increasing numbers of eligible players, with an Audiogram, will present themselves to EDRU managed England Deaf Training Sessions.

    For more information on England Deaf, try this link;

    http://englanddeafrugby.com/

    I've not given a link to IDRO as the website was last updated in August 2005, and the organisation has become irrelevant, but feel free to Google, its still up.

    So that's where we are with history, more or less, but lets not forget the EDRU is also forming a Deaf Womens Squad as I write this.

    As I understand it, there have been a number of suggestions for England Deaf to tour, playing Eastern European Elite teams, such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, or touring South America, or indeed perhaps New Zealand and/or Australia.


    Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants and Club Rugby

    In 2000, in response to the proposed use of radio transceivers (communications devices), the IRB introduced amendments to Law 4 and Regulation 12, which were designed to prevent the use of such communication devices. They were not introduced to prevent deaf rugby players from wearing BTE hearing aids while playing Rugby Union, I have a letter from the IRB that states this somewhere in my paperwork.

    The interpretation of the poorly worded Law 4 and Regulation 12 has forced deaf and hard of hearing players to hide their deafness to ensure they aren't disadvantaged, the wider use of Scrum Caps has helped, which makes the wearing of BTE hearing aids possible.

    You have a Catch 22, the Disability Discrimination Act ensures that a person does not need to reveal his or her disability, and also that a person cannot ask a disabled person whether they have a disability and deafness is a disability, so you can't ask, and they don't have to tell you, plus its under an IRB Approved Scrum Cap, which if the IRB Approval Mark is visible externally, they cannot be asked by you to remove under existing Laws. One experienced Referee told me recently that it would be unusual for a Referee to go asking everyone to remove their headgear for inspection of Regulation 12.

    In my experience, not all Referees are aware of the Regulations anyway, my own son, who has worn his BTE hearing aids while playing Union since 2004 only started wearing a Scrum Cap, primarily to protect them from rain damage, but after losing a few during games, and having a Referee approach me before a Colts game asking me if I knew of any rule preventing him playing as he wasn't aware himself (you can imagine my answer was not going to prevent my son from playing that day), we decided for rain protection, security, and keeping them hidden from nosey Referees, that a Scrum Cap was a priority.

    In addition, you may not be aware, that before the recent events at the RFU at reorganising itself, a process was underway for the RFU to petition the IRB after RWC 2011 for an amendment to Law 4 and Regulation 12, allowing specifically the wearing of BTE Hearing Aids under a Scrum Cap, the RFU were/are also reviewing issues relating to prosthetic limbs and supports for medical conditions being worn by players, since a number of Players in England are wearing these.

    My son did briefly play Rugby League, so I thought it worthwhile writing to the RFL to find out their position regarding hearing aids; I received a communication from the Legal Department at the RFL, Leeds, that states that the RFL allows the wearing of BTE Hearing Aids under a Scrum Cap whilst playing Rugby League, although it has to be said, the RFL aren't as prescriptive as the IRB regarding padding or materials, the final decision on safety being made by the Referee. On request I have given a copy of this to the RFU, to use as supporting evidence within its petition to the IRB regarding the wearing of BTE Hearing Aids.

    The RFU itself has collaborated with stakeholders, in the past, to produce guidance for Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant wearers, although wearing the external part of the device is not recommended, the document specifically suggests that Cochlear Implant wearers are recommended to use additional padding over implants that are under the skin. This in itself is breaking IRB Regulation 12 by recommending padding beyond 0.5cm thickness, with good intentions I might add, because damage to these internal parts can mean a loss of hearing.

    However, in terms of possible injuries sustained whilst wearing BTE Hearing Aids; in my experience, apart from front and second rows being unlikely to elect to wear their aids under a Scrum Cap, due to the area of contact during scrummaging and personal comfort, although I have met one or two that have elected to wear them; in general the frequency and severity of injury to the wearer is not made significantly worse by the wearer wearing BTE Hearing Aids.

    The sort of impact that might be expected, from the side, should be prevented and penalised by the Referee in any event, and the incidence low, and in open play it would more likely be a high tackle that would cause an injury, if any, and again as this is illegal, and penalised, the likely incidence is also very low.

    Head on impacts would most likely cause a glancing blow to protective headgear at worst, and the more likely area of impact would be to the forehead, face, or scalp, rather than behind the ears.

    Certainly my son has only ever had one minor injury to his Pinna (fleshy part of the ear) attributable in eight years, and that was due to a Prop landing on his head, and I would submit this is an unlikely event to reoccur. In any event, I would suggest that bruised ears are part and parcel of the game, whether you wear BTE Hearing Aids or not.

    Someone suggested that as with the recent trial of GPS units worn by players, that perhaps it would be possible to work with a Hearing Instrument Manufacturer and headgear manufacturer to locate electronics in the least likely area for producing an injury, but there are reasons why this wouldn't be possible. First, the number of deaf players is insignificant compared to the registered number of players, secondly, such development would be extremely expensive, since the market for such devices and headgear would be an insignificant niche. There's also a current technology barrier, certain hearing losses cannot be coped with by current amplification technology, this is why my own son cannot wear an In the Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids, miniturisation isn't quite at that stage.

    So creating rules specifically to a design would always be working against progress, and technological advances. An ITE Hearing Aid would be great, since its inside the ear, and can't possibly cause an injury from an impact, but its not for everyone, yet.

    The current probable risk of injury from the wearing of BTE Hearing Aids is insignificant, due to the tiny numbers of deaf players, and the even smaller number that wear them and which position they play, and that together with the onward process of technical advancement, these things will get smaller, and deaf players will eventually trade in their BTE devices for ITE devices, further reducing the risk.


    What can we do to help?

    First, you can support the proposed amendments to Law 4 and Regulation 12 to allow Deaf Players playing within hearing sides to wear their BTE Hearing Aids if they want to, not all do. That makes the game fair and doesn't target a disability that wasn't the target of the rule change in the first place.

    Deaf Players in Deaf Representative sides aren't allowed to wear hearing aids, there's no argument from anyone over that.

    Secondly, if someone can give me or long term loan me an RFU RefMic set I'd appreciate it, as I voluntarily provide Video Support for England Deaf Rugby and I want to utilise audio from the Referee. Sadly we have no budget for this.

    There are plans to distribute a short Video, about 90 seconds, to attract both eligible players and sponsors to England Deaf, as well as promoting Deaf Rugby in general. If anyone knows of a potential sponsor, either for equipment or production, everyone at England Deaf Rugby would appreciate it.

    As Referees, and this is not a criticism, when officiating at any game you're unlikely to know that deaf players or indeed deaf spectators are present, and I would suggest that you reinforce the signals indicating offences and decisions as much as possible, since without that the deaf are no fully involved with the flow, or lack of flow, of the game.

    When officiating at a Deaf International, or perhaps a trials or charity game involving at least one Deaf side, there's a set of agreed signs that are used to indicate the Refereeing behind a decision, or when Coaching a training session involving deaf players that use sign, while it is not a requirement to learn these, it would help those that use British Sign Language (BSL) when an Interpreter is not present;

    http://www.youtube.com/view_play_lis...D3FB82013190E4

    If you wish to get involved in any other capacity, please follow the links on the England Deaf Rugby website, which also contains advice and help on integrating Deaf Players within a club that does not have the experience. Such advice will be tailored to the needs of the player, since not all require signing, it may just be a case of being aware of where your face is in relation to lighting, since if a player can't hear you, and you make it impossible for them to lip read you, they will look like they are not paying attention, but the problem is not them, its you!

    Stop Press

    If a player wears BTE Hearing Aids during a non-contact training session, and he's running, he will hear wind noise, not you shouting from the other side of the playing area!

    If its raining during a training session, its unlikely a deaf player will be wearing his aids if he isn't wearing a Scrum Cap, so he won't be able to hear you, and the rain might make lip reading difficult!

    If a deaf player tells you the attack WILL be coming down the blindside, he's probably read the lips of the opposition while they were whispering to each other.

    If anyone has a specific question relating to England Deaf I must ask you to direct this to their Secretary for an appropriate official response, but if you have a general query on Deaf Rugby I'm willing to answer if I can.

    One more thing, relying solely on lip reading in a game without BTE Hearing Aids, when you've been raised with Natural Auralism, and BTE Hearing Aids to boost your residual hearing to hear and understand calls and voices from behind, is a severe disadvantage to impose on someone when playing a game where the ball is always passed backwards (or flat) to people running behind you. What other sport does that to its players?

    Wayne Faulkner
    m5wjf@btinternet.com

    Hopefully my Inbox won't end up full of offers to give me millions of dollars if I just send a small fee to Nigeria...
    Last edited by Wireless; 31-08-11 at 03:08.

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    Robert, I've spotted a few grammar and spelling errors, if you wish to edit this or shorten it (I do tend to go on), please feel free.

  9. #49
    Rugby Club Member Wireless's Avatar

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    In the meantime, here's my son (wearing 11) putting six past Essex in a pre-international at Braintree RUFC

    http://www.youtube.com/user/protocolisdown

  10. #50

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    Default Re: Deaf Rugby....what?

    I'll have a proof read and post it, all looks good on first glance.

    Thanks for this!
    "This is not Soccer!" ©Nigel Owens
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