Dr. Marc Kowalsky will be in Alicante, Spain this week as team physician for the Northeast Rugby Academy Men’s U23 team, who will compete in the 33rd Annual Costa Blanca Rugby Sevens Tournament. The Northeast Academy Men’s U23 team will compete in the Elite division along with teams from Europe, Africa, and South America, including several national Sevens teams.
Sevens games are more fast moving and free flowing than a regular union rugby match. A union game of 15s rugby, when there are 15 men on the pitch, lasts 80 minutes. Sevens, on the other hand, with 7 players on the pitch, has 7 minute halves, with a 2 minute half-time. In Sevens, players who have been subbed out are allowed to go back into the game.
Dr. Kowalsky has served as medical director for this organization since November, 2018. Northeast Academy is the official USA Rugby National Development Academy for the identification and development of athletes from the northeast region for participation in the USA Rugby national teams and the USA Olympic rugby teams. Dr. Kowalsky is also team physician for the USA Rugby national team, the Eagles.
ONS Sports Medicine expert, Dr. Marc Kowalsky, will serve as team physician for the USA Rugby National Team Selects at the upcoming 2018 World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge in Montevideo, Uruguay from October 6 – 14. Dr. Kowalsky has served as team physician for the USA Rugby National Teams since 2013. “This is a challenging competition that will help the USA team prepare for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan,” he said.
According to the USA Rugby website, the Americas Pacific Challenge was introduced in 2016 to boost the high-performance pathway and to support the Americas Rugby Championship and Pacific Nations Cup as well as November international test window preparation.
The six “A” team tournament includes two teams each from the Pacific Islands, North America and South America.
This year’s tournament sees reigning champions Argentina XV compete alongside Canada A, Samoa A, Tonga A, Uruguay A and USA Selects.
The World Rugby Americas Pacific Challenge will be a first-past-the-post tournament format. It will be played across three competition rounds on October 6, 10 and 14. Teams in Pool A will play all teams in Pool B once, and teams in Pool B will face all teams in Pool A once. The tournament winner will be decided by the total number of competition points accumulated in the three matches played.
Pool A consists of Argentina XV, hosts Uruguay A and Tonga A, while 2017 runners-up USA Selects are in Group B with Samoa A and Canada A.
Agustín Pichot, World Rugby Vice Chairman and Rugby Americas President was quoted saying “With Rugby World Cup 2019 on the horizon, the Americas Pacific Challenge continues to play a key role in supporting player development.”
Dr. Kowalsky’s interest rugby began when he played the sport while at Dartmouth College. Locally, he is team physician for Iona Rugby Football Club, White Plains Rugby Football Club, and the Greenwich High School Rugby team.
ONS SPORTS MEDICINE SPECIALIST MARC S. KOWALSKY, MD, TO SPEAK ABOUT YOUTH RUGBY SAFETY ON MAY 4
Dr. Marc Kowalsky will discuss safe participation in youth rugby, the fastest growing sport among young athletes in the United States.
The informative lecture for coaches, players and parents of players presented by the Rye Rugby Club will take place on Wednesday, May 4 beginning at 7 pm at the Rye High School Performing Arts Center at One Parsons Street in Rye New York.
Dr. Kowalsky will draw from his extensive experience caring for rugby players at every level of competition in this discussion of strategies for injury prevention. Topics will include optimal diet and nutrition, as well as strength and conditioning in these athletes. Dr. Kowalsky will also touch on the value of protective equipment in youth rugby. The critical role of coaching and officiating in maintaining safety of the game will be covered, as will prevention and management of concussion. The importance of collaboration among parents, coaches, trainers, and physicians will be addressed as well.
“The USA Rugby National Team lost to Samoa in the first round of the Pacific Nations Cup, 21-16 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California. This match was a preview of the match-up between these two teams in pool play for the Rugby World Cup this fall. While the Samoans, ranked 9th in the world they jumped out to an early lead in the first half. The Eagles battled valiantly in the second half, but fell short of victory by only five points.” (more about the game)
Dr. Kowalsky traveled with the team during their week of preparation, and served as team physician for the match. The Eagles contended with a tough Samoan team, known for their physical style of play. Fortunately, neither team sustained catastrophic injuries during the match.
Now back in Connecticut, Dr. Kowalsky looks forward to the fall season of high school, collegiate, and men’s rugby, passing along to athletes these tips for injury prevention strategy:
Adequate nutrition and hydration are imperative not only to optimize performance, but also to avoid overuse injuries during training and competition.
A supervised strength and conditioning program is essential.
Athletes must respond early to symptoms of impending injury when possible, and seek the care of their training staff and team physician.
Dr. Kowalsky is not only team physician for USA Rugby National Team but also for Iona College Rugby Football club and White Plains Rugby Football Club.
Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, with a 33% annual increase in participation among youth athletes. In part, the popularity of rugby in the US can be attributed to an increased visibility of the sport at the high school and collegiate levels, and the recent success of the USA Rugby National Team. The US fields a “7s” and a “15s” team, characterized by the number of players on the field during competition. The 7s team recently qualified for participation in the 2016 Rio Olympics. This will be the first time the sport is featured in Olympic competition since 1924. The 15s team, otherwise known as the Eagles, is currently ranked 16th in the world, and qualified to compete this fall at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
Orthopaedic & Neurosurgery Specialists have a long-standing tradition of providing orthopedic care for young rugby players. ONS doctors have served as team physicians for the Greenwich High School rugby team, one of the strongest high school teams in the country. Currently, orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist Dr. Marc Kowalsky is the team physician for the USA Rugby National Team. Having played rugby himself at Dartmouth College he understands the game from a medical and player’s perspective. He also serves as team physician for the Iona College Rugby Team and the White Plains Rugby Football Club.
“Injuries that are typically encountered in rugby encompass the entire spectrum of injuries treated in any collision sport. As with American Football, there has been a significant increase in attention to concussion and traumatic brain injury in the sport. World Rugby, the governing body of international rugby, and USA Rugby, have devoted a significant amount of time, energy, and resources to optimize the prevention, detection and care of concussion and traumatic brain injury among rugby players.
Two of the important measures to prevent concussion from occurring are, avoiding contact in the sport at a young age, and proper instruction about safe tackling as contact is introduced. At the elite level, techniques for safe tackling are certainly reinforced. From the perspective of the medical team, all members of the USA Rugby medical staff are required to complete the IRB Level 2 Immediate Care in Rugby Course to prepare for the management of catastrophic injuries during training and competition. Physicians and trainers are additionally required to complete extensive training in the assessment and management of concussion in particular.
Another key tool is a baseline neurocognitive exam to measure an athlete’s cognitive function, or the ability to process information. All players complete neurocognitive testing once they join the team, to establish baseline values for each athlete, which become important in the assessment of an athlete who may have sustained a concussion.”
World Rugby and USA Rugby continue to improve the medical team’s ability to assess injured athletes during competition. Clear guidelines have been established to guide treatment and determine an athlete’s ability to return to play. All of these measures will be in place as the USA Rugby National Team prepares for competition in the Pacific Nation’s Cup, July 18, 2015. Dr. Kowalsky will accompany the team and serve as team physician.