Some good news out of the IRB today …
Unions will now be able to implement a trial in elite competitions where an experienced doctor is in attendance. Under the trial players who have sustained a head injury with suspicious symptoms or signs will be able to leave the field of play for a standardised assessment undertaken over a five-minute period.
Under the new protocols:
- The recommendation to remove the player can be made by either the referee, the independent match day doctor or the team doctor from the player’s team.
- Once that command is made, the referee will indicate that the player is leaving the field of play with a hand signal where he touches his head three times.
- Once the player has been removed from the field of play and temporarily replaced, the team and independent match doctors will proceed through an IRB pitch-side concussion assessment procedure incorporating standardised questions and observations.
- If the player fails any aspect of the assessment and has relevant symptoms he will not be able to return to the field of play and the substitution becomes permanent.
Given the recent knocks to both Gio Aplon and Bismarck du Plessis (and a few others), where it looked like they should never have played on after taking huge hits to the head, I salute this call. Here’s hoping it will not be abused, though. These substitutions follow the same rules as the blood substitutions do, so a player already substituted may replace a player undergoing a concussion examination. I am thinking last 5 minutes of a game, in need of 3 points to win, and your best kicker is now on the bench … Or your most recent prop sub has not worked out all that well for you … Quite tricky to fake a head clash though!