Northamp­ton spared over North head in­jury

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: Northamp­ton should not have al­lowed Ge­orge North to con­tinue play­ing af­ter he sus­tained a head in­jury but they will not be pun­ished, a con­cus­sion re­view panel an­nounced yes­ter­day. The Wales wing, 24, was in­jured dur­ing an English Pre­mier­ship game against Le­ices­ter on De­cem­ber 3, but al­though he ap­peared to have been knocked out, Saints’ med­i­cal staff al­lowed him to play on.

A Con­cus­sion Man­age­ment Re­view Group (CMRG) was set up to in­ves­ti­gate the in­ci­dent, the first such re­view since new con­cus­sion rules came into force at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son.

It found that while there had been “suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence” to take North out of the game, the club did not “in­ten­tion­ally ig­nore the player’s best in­ter­ests”. “Northamp­ton Saints med­i­cal team has ac­cepted that North may have lost con­scious­ness and there­fore should not have re­turned to play,” the CMRG said in a press re­lease. “The CMRG con­sid­ered the wel­fare of North was al­ways at the cen­tre of Northamp­ton’s ac­tions, and does not con­sider that the med­i­cal team (or the club) failed to com­plete the HIA (Head In­jury As­sess­ment) pro­to­col nor in­ten­tion­ally ig­nored the player’s best in­ter­ests.

“In ad­di­tion and al­though not a de­ter­min­ing fac­tor, the CMRG is aware that the player ap­pears to have had no resid­ual ef­fects in the short term. “For the above rea­sons the CMRG will not be im­pos­ing any sanc­tion against the club or any of its in­di­vid­u­als as a re­sult of this in­ci­dent.” Northamp­ton ac­cepted the panel’s find­ings. “Northamp­ton ac­cepts the con­clu­sion that Ge­orge should not have been al­lowed to re­turn to the field of play,” the club said in a state­ment.

“But we are pleased that the CMRG has re­flected our con­cerns about the cur­rent tech­nolo­gies and pro­cesses avail­able to med­i­cal teams when as­sess­ing con­cus­sion.

“The club be­lieves that this is now an op­por­tu­nity for the whole rugby com­mu­nity to re­flect on the CMRG’s rec­om­men­da­tions to en­sure the high­est lev­els of player safety and well-be­ing.”

Rather than in­sti­gate dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings against Northamp­ton, the CMRG, set up in part­ner­ship by the Rugby Foot­ball Union and Pre­mier­ship Rugby, made nine rec­om­men­da­tions. They in­clude a call for the full 13 min­utes set aside for Head In­jury As­sess­ments to be used un­less there is clear rea­son to shorten it.

The CMRG also wants team doc­tors to re­view video footage for per­ma­nent re­moval cri­te­ria be­fore and af­ter the as­sess­ment process.

North, who has a his­tory of head in­juries, has since re­turned to train­ing and Saints di­rec­tor of rugby Jim Mallinder said ear­lier this week that he will play against Sale to­mor­row.

LON­DON: This file photo of Wales’ Ge­orge North, right, as he is tack­led by Eng­land’s Ge­orge Ford dur­ing the Six Na­tions in­ter­na­tional rugby match be­tween Eng­land and Wales at Twick­en­ham sta­dium in Lon­don. English rugby author­i­ties yes­ter­day said it will not sanc­tion Northamp­ton fol­low­ing a re­view into an in­ci­dent that saw the club’s med­i­cal team clear Wales winger Ge­orge North to con­tinue play­ing, de­spite re­plays sug­gest­ing he lost con­scious­ness af­ter a head in­jury.

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