Everyone from players to spectators will play a part in reducing rugby injuries under NZ Rugby's new plan.

They have released the details for their $7 million expansion of the RugbySmart programme, which is designed to stop preventable injuries.

Everyone will take more responsibility and have access to better education.

Referees will take action including getting players off the field if there's any chance they've suffered a head injury.


Increased training for players will include a rugby-specific warm-up to reduce preventable injuries.

A first aid programme will train those who are regularly on the side lines, so they can manage injured athletes while waiting for a doctor.

Rugby injuries are the biggest sports-related cost to ACC, at $67m for 2015.

All Black Sonny Bill Williams said times were changing, and it was good to see injuries being taken more seriously.

"Ten years ago, it was like if you can carry on, you carry on.

"But now they've taken the decision out of the players' hands.

"That's a good thing, because I think athletes always want to carry on, show how strong they are, but we have to protect players."

Williams has had his own worrying brush with head injury.


He was knocked out while playing for the Chiefs two years ago.

"It was pretty scary, because I started getting headaches afterwards," Williams said.

"I remember sitting in a video session a few days afterwards, and getting a migraine.

"I just had to go through the procedures and luckily came out all good."

Black Ferns player of the year 2016 Selica Winiata had also had a close call when she was concussed on the field 10 years ago.

"I don't think you realise, until it happens to you, how serious it is and how right the doctors are.

"It's quite scary to not remember a whole game, even when [the concussion] happened in the second half of the game."

Winiata said people still had a "she'll be right" attitude, but that wasn't good enough anymore.

"There's nothing worse than someone's brain being badly hurt, and being told to get back on the field and keep playing.

"I think it's really important to get the message out to our youth around New Zealand.

"That's our up-and-coming players, the players of the future."

Around 150,000 people play rugby each winter weekend in New Zealand.

Most of ACC's $67m rugby cost comes from treating contact injuries from tackles, rucks and mauls.