Six Nations address French HIA controversy
UPDATE: Following Saturday's Ireland France clash in Paris, the Six Nations have addressed the controversy around the circumstances in which two France players were subject to HIA protocols, despite no clear head injuries having been sustained.
Both flyhalf Matthieu Jalibut and scrumhalf Antoine Dupont both seemed to suffer injuries to their lower limbs, but when they left the field the French medical team said that both needed HIAs.
On the 30th minute teenage debutant Jalibut left the field apparently with a knee injury, yet he was assessed as a HIA.
On the 76th minute Dupont left, again with what looked like a leg injury, and again a HIA was ordered. Irish captain Jonathan Sexton queried referee Nigel Owens, who himself questioned the match day doctor, who clarified that Dupont was indeed going to have a HIA.
"SNRL [Six Nations Rugby Limited] has in place a Head Injury Assessment Protocol that applies to the 2018 Championships, which has been approved by World Rugby.
"As part of that protocol, there is a process by which HIA/concussion-related incidents are reviewed. This involves an initial review by an independent HIA Review Processor, Alligin (UK) Limited, and then in certain cases a further review by an HIA Review Panel.
"The HIA Review Panel can as part of its review make recommendations [among other things] as to further education and training that is required, and/or whether disciplinary action should be taken by SNRL. This two-stage review process is required by World Rugby.
"The HIA Review Processor is reviewing a number of incidents from the France v Ireland match in the senior men's championship. Depending on their findings, SNRL will be considering the next steps in respect of those incidents."
Under the HIA protocols, medical staff can assess the player for up to ten minutes. Theoretically, it would allow a player a longer period of time to be treated by doctors before potentially being brought back onto the pitch.
Crucially, it allowed Maxime Machenaud to come back onto the pitch in the closing minutes of the game for the final scrum, despite leaving the field as an injury replacement.
Brian O'Driscoll lead the charge in relation to the apparent misuse of the protocols.
Just because we won with an INCREDIBLE 42 METER drop goal that HIA decision shouldn’t get swept under the carpet. It was nothing short of a disgrace!!!— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) February 3, 2018
Jamie Cudmore's concussion foundation – The Rugby Safety Network – also branded France's apparent use of the protocol as a tactic. "When a protocol put in place to protect player welfare is used as a tactic like it blatantly was by French today action must be taken or the entire HIA and concussion protocol is taken from. Abuse of process cannot go unsanctioned."
By Ian Cameron, Rugbypass