Last weekend rugby fans watched aghast as George North returned to the field of play despite appearing to suffer a concussion after colliding with Adam Thompstone during the Northampton Saint’s 19-11 defeat at the hands of the Leicester Tigers.
North lay motionless on the ground following Thompstone’s challenge, and was withdrawn for a head injury assessment or HIA. However, despite the serious nature of the incident, Northampton’s assessment only lasted eight minutes, not the 13 allocated by Premiership Rugby.
This has raised questions over Northampton’s conduct. However most alarming was their suggestion that the medical team didn’t have access to the same video replay’s of the incident as viewers at home.
It is important to note this video footage is not always the full range of replay angles available to the TV viewing audience at home.
The medical team can only base their decisions on the evidence available to them at the time of assessment. World Rugby protocol dictated, given the evidence available to the medical team, the use of a Head Injury Assessment.
Northampton’s statement raised concerns over Premiership Rugby’s myplayXplay system, which allows medical teams review head injuries in real time. Each team also has a dedicated pitch side reviewer, whose job it is to refer any such incidents to the doctors attending to the injured player.
However BT Sport are incensed by suggestions that the necessary footage was not available to the Saints’ medical team, with one source within the broadcasting company telling the Daily Mail;
It would have been absolutely extraordinary and highly unusual if the designated concussion spotter had not been able to access exactly the same footage the television audience had.
Even, in the highly unlikely event the feed wasn’t adequate and the spotter could not see the footage on their ipad, what about the countless times the incident was replayed on the big screen?
Are they seriously saying not one member of Northampton’s medical or coaching team saw those replays? It is simply not plausible.
Indeed the same source accused the Saints of using “diversionary tactics to distract from the fact they messed up very badly and are now back-peddling”.
BT’s involvement in the what is turning out to be a very significant story could spell trouble for the Saints. Premiership Rugby and RFU officials revealed that a Concussion Management Review Group met yesterday to begin investigating the incident.
Although it is not clear if any charges will be brought against the Saints, Ian Ritchie warned sanctions could be levelled against the club if found guilty of misconduct. What form those sanctions will take remains to be seen.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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