The opening day of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations will surely be remembered for that last gasp Jonathan Sexton drop goal in Paris but a pair of France HIA calls will continue to lurk just out of the spotlight.
On two occasions in the match between France and Ireland, medics for the home side we called into action to tend to Matthieu Jalibert and Antoine Dupont.
Both had clearly suffered knee injuries and were unable to carry on. Rather than call the injuries for what they were, however, both players were taken off the field to undergo head injury assessments (HIA), a judgement supported by the official match doctor, who just so happened to be French.
The controversy surrounding these decisions are two-fold. First, in calling for a HIA, France were permitted bring on a player who had previously been substituted, something not possible had either player been simply injured.
The second and potentially more serious ramification of the surprising HIA calls was that it appeared that France were using such a serious issue to their advantage.
With head injuries and concussion a major issue in the modern game, any apparent manipulation of the HIA could negatively impact its use in the future.
Following the contest, the HIA debate and France’s use of the rule against Ireland continued to rage long after the lights had been turned off at Stade de France.
Now, nearly two weeks later, former England out-half Andy Goode has reopened the debate, this time, however, with tongue firmly in cheek.
While the facetious fallout from the incidents will likely continue for the remainder of the 6 Nations, there does remain the serious side of the HIA and its use.
At the end of the day, the ruling is there for the safety of players and must not be misused or called into question.
As for Andy Goode and that knee, here’s hoping he is back on his feet quickly.