Concussion guidelines to be reviewed
The International Rugby Board has announced that it is to review its controversial in-match test for concussion.
The decision comes in the wake of heavy criticism of the Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA) following the final Test between Australia and the British and Irish Lions.
In the opening minutes of the match in Sydney, Australian flanker George Smith was involved in a head collision with Lions hooker Richard Hibbard that left him unable to walk properly and seemingly clearly concussed. Despite this, Smith later returned to the field after passing the PSCA. The veteran later admitted that the knock "obviously affected me. You saw me snake dancing off the field."
In announcing the decision to review the system, IRB Chief Medical Officer Martin Raftery underlined the fact that the PSCA is a guideline and not the only factor that should be taken into account when deciding if a player should continue.
"The PSCA is intended to be a supportive tool for physicians in the elite Game. If a player is clearly displaying the signs of concussion, that player must be removed from the field of play and should not return to play," said Raftery.
"Concussion management is at the very heart of the IRB's player welfare strategies and the message to players, coaches and parents is clear - if in doubt, sit it out."
"Our Member Unions have supported the PSCA process and recognise the enormous benefits that the PSCA process delivers in this important area of player welfare."
"All head injury incidents occurring within the PSCA trial are logged by the IRB Game Analysis unit for assessment. This review one year on from implementation will enable us to work with the physicians to review all the cases, identify practice learnings and reinforce the importance of following the correct procedures."
"The area of concussion is highly emotive and diagnosis is complex, especially in the heat of the battle, and the PSCA was developed in line with international best practice to assist doctors and give them the best possible platform to assess their players when it is unclear whether concussion is apparent."
"All the evidence suggests that the PSCA is proving to be a very effective tool to protect our players and team physicians are twice as likely to remove players from the field of play than independent medics, but we can and will continue to review and improve our practices to ensure that we are collectively doing all we can."
International Rugby Players' Association chief executive Rob Nichol praised the IRB's decision and called on all parties involved to ensure and faults were ironed out.
"It is our view that the PSCA trial has been good for the health and wellbeing of our elite players," said Nichol.
"It is about collective responsibility and we will continue to work in full collaboration with all stakeholders to ensure that players are fully educated as this is an area that all in Game take very seriously," he added.