The team behind the team

Published on CPL Janine Fabre (author and photographer)

Location(s): Aldershot, UK

Topic(s): Rugby Union

Medical officer, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Chloe Ryan (left) and physiotherapist, Royal Australian Air Force Squadron Leader Anna Lewis, after the match between Australian Services Rugby Union and Canadian Armed Forces at Aldershot on Thursday 15 October 2015. (photo: CPL Janine Fabre)
Medical officer, Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Chloe Ryan (left) and physiotherapist, Royal Australian Air Force Squadron Leader Anna Lewis, after the match between Australian Services Rugby Union and Canadian Armed Forces at Aldershot on Thursday 15 October 2015.

In rugby, like many sports, receiving immediate medical care on the ground is essential to ensure players recover quickly and are able to return to the field as soon as possible.
 
Medical Officer Lieutenant Commander Chloe Ryan, and physiotherapist Squadron Leader Anna Lewis were that critical care team, working with the Australian Services Rugby Union side on their recent tour in the United Kingdom.
 
"Having the corporate knowledge about the team and personal knowledge about the players is invaluable when you are responsible for their health care on and off the field," Lieutenant Commander Ryan said.
 
"It is especially important in dealing with concussion and head injuries.
 
"People often think that to be concussed you have to hit your head on something but that is not the case.
 
"It can happen in a high speed tackle and a player might say they don't have a headache, but in fact they do have a concussion."
 
Lieutenant Commander Ryan does medical assessments on each player when they first arrive on tour so she knows what their baseline is.

Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Chloe Ryan is the medical officer for the Australian Services Rugby Union men's team competing in the International Defence Rugby Competition held in the United Kingdom throughout October 2015.

Royal Australian Navy Lieutenant Commander Chloe Ryan is the medical officer for the Australian Services Rugby Union men's team competing in the International Defence Rugby Competition held in the United Kingdom throughout October 2015.


 
"But knowing personally someone's character and what they are normally like can be incredibly helpful in deciding whether someone has a brain injury or not," she said.
 
Both Lieutenant Commander Ryan and Squadron Leader Lewis have worked and toured with Australian Services Rugby Union men's and women's teams since 2010 so they both understand the requirements of individuals and the team as a whole.
 
"Anna and I have worked together a lot so we understand the differences in our roles and the complementary parts of our roles," Lieutenant Commander Ryan said.
 
They are also self-sufficient with the kit they carry such as medicines, treatment tables, dressings, strapping tape, acupuncture needles and even a pilates reformer which is a frame that uses springs to provide varying levels of resistance to exercise different muscle groups.
 
Lieutenant Commander Ryan also ensures players are as medically fit as they can be before entering camp so she co-ordinates with the home unit’s medical centre to ensure they receive the treatment they might require before deploying with the team.
 
The hardest thing about the trip has been dealing with different health systems.
 
"Health care is very accessible for military members in Australia but here in England, it is more difficult," Lieutenant Commander Ryan said.
 
"We are dealing with a few different layers here: the public health system, the military system and private health care.
 
"But because I have toured here with Australian Services Rugby Union in the past, I already have a working knowledge of the UK health system so again corporate knowledge is invaluable."
 
And although they don't play rugby themselves, both get very excited at matches and take personal pride in the games. The highlight of the tournament for both was Australian Services Rugby Union's win against the French rugby team.
 
"It wasn't expected and the French played a very difficult game," Lieutenant Commander Ryan said.
 
"Everyone, including the British Army team were cheering us on, so to pip them at the post in the last few minutes was a pretty good feeling."