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Lamont: Concussion tests flawed

Sun, 28 Jul 2013 15:57
Georgesmithinjured Digby-ioane-injured Pat-mccabe-injured Rorylamonttonga

We are seeing reckless disregard for players' welfare

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Former Scotland utility back Rory Lamont says players can cheat the International Rugby Board's concussion test system as it is “seriously flawed.”

The legitimacy of the Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA) was brought into question after George Smith was allowed back onto the field during the third Test between the Wallabies and the British and Irish Lions recently despite having been knocked unconscious.

"Obviously [the knock] affected me. You saw me snake dancing off the field," Smith said afterwards, which prompted the IRB to announce that they will be reviewing the PSCA system.

Mandatory three-week lay-offs were previously implemented to assure player safety, but were criticised by coaches who felt it to be excessive rest for minor head knocks.

Subsequently, players are now immediately monitored after they suffer a head knock with follow up tests being done in the days that follow.

Recently retired Lamont slammed the current system, saying players have found a way around it and asked for a return to a mandatory lay-off system.  

"I don't know what research the IRB used for this trial but it is seriously flawed," Lamont told the Scotsman.

"Everyone saw George wobbling his way off the field, clearly concussed, and then come back on. I have suffered clean knockouts, real sleeping-on-the-floor episodes in a game, so I know the protocols inside out, the symptoms and recovery periods, and there is no way a player should be allowed to stay on the pitch after a head knock. It's insanity.

“People might get annoyed with me saying this, but we are seeing reckless disregard for players' welfare right now. In many cases that is because they cheat. Players all talk about it.

“A test is done at the start of the season as a baseline test, and players who suffer from concussion have to return to that level to be passed fit to play.

"But some players will deliberately do stuff in the baseline test so that their results are low, making it easier to pass after concussion.

“And I've seen players carrying concussion into games. They'd come off a fairly straightforward tackle, but be sitting on the ground, staring into space for a few seconds.

"It's a bit like your body shutting down and re-booting. I've experienced that. I didn't hide it, but you are often ostracised by coaches who assume you are being dishonest or shirking by saying you can't train or play, so with that pressure boys do play when they have head trauma.

"I'd like a return to a minimum three weeks out after concussion, because that would take away the pressure from coaches and medics to try to get a player back too early."

Following criticism of his comments, Lamont took to Twitter to explain. "I did the concussion article because I think it is a serious problem in rugby. The current IRB concussion protocol is simply dangerous," he tweeted.

"Rugby culture is all about bravado and mental toughness. Complaining about injury and pain is often seen as weakness of the mind.

"Players think a bruised brain is the same as a bruised leg, in which it is something that you can train and play through. #Theyneededucation"

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