Orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Marc S. Kowalsky, MD, of Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists (ONS)in Stamford and Greenwich, CT, heads down to Fort Lauderdale this weekend to oversee the medical care of players at the America’s Cup Rugby Championship match between the USA and Chile.
The Americas Rugby Championship is the North and South American equivalent to the prestigious European Six Nations Championship that is currently underway in Europe. National teams from the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile and Uruguay are competing for the title.
Dr. Kowalsky, who played rugby as an Inside Center while at Dartmouth, has been a team physician for the US National Rugby Team, the Eagles, since 2012.
In the role as Match Day Doctor (MDD), Dr. Kowalsky will work with the physicians of each competing team to medically supervise the entire match and coordinate the care of any player who is injured during the game, regardless of team affiliation. Among the many responsibilities of an MDD, Dr. Kowalsky will make the final decision whether a player can safely return to a game following an assessment for a head or bleeding injury or severe trauma to the body.
According to Dr. Kowalsky, the position was created to provide additional support to team physicians, coaches, and athletes to maintain the health and safety of players during competition.
“Being the final word on whether an injured player can return to the field is a significant responsibility,” said Dr. Kowalsky. Still, being selected as an MDD is an honor, he said. “I feel privileged to care for top international players in a competition of this caliber.” In brief, an MDD must be a licensed practitioner who has a post-graduate qualification in sports, orthopaedic or emergency medicine. Ideally, all MDD’s will have Level 2 World Rugby Immediate Care accreditation and have experience as a rugby team physician.
National interest in rugby on a scholastic level has exploded in popularity in recent years, explained Dr. Kowalsky, who noted that most schools in our area have rugby teams as do community organizations such as the OGRCC. Greenwich High School’s rugby team is among the best in the country, he said.
On a national level, he explained, rugby games can draw crowds as large as 20,000 people, depending on the teams competing and location of the game. The first North American professional rugby league, the Professional Rugby Organization, will compete in six major metropolitan areas beginning in the Spring, 2016.
The number of rugby fans could increase even further, he suggested, following the return of the sport to the Summer Olympics, following a 92 year hiatus from the Games. America is the defending Olympic Rugby Champion, having won the gold medal in Paris in 1924. ##