TELEVISION replays could be used in rugby union to identify players suffering from possible concussion following controversy over the treatment of Wales wing George North.
Wales yesterday escaped punishment from World Rugby for failing to remove North during Friday’s Six Nations defeat to England after the Northampton player had appeared to be momentarily knocked out.
World Rugby insisted North should have been substituted immediately after the accidental clash of heads with team-mate Richard Hubbard, though they accepted that Welsh doctors had not seen the incident.
The governing body now plans to re-examine its own concussion protocols, with one option being expanding the use of instant TV replays beyond key match decisions and into player welfare. Such measures are set to be in place for this year’s World Cup in England, and World Rugby is anxious to minimise the chance of a repeat of the North incident.
Rugby has reacted to increasing concerns over the long-term impact of concussion in recent years by tightening rules, which now stipulate that any player suspected of losing consciousness must be replaced.
“Player welfare is World Rugby’s No1 priority and the incident highlights the importance of ensuring that medical staff are given the best possible level of support to minimise the chance of a repeat incident and further enhance the protection and support of players,” the governing body said.
“World Rugby will be immediately investigating, evaluating and promoting the implementation of the following measures: the practicality of the television match official technology being expanded to identify head injuries as they happen on the field; all elite competitions will be requested to provide pitch-side video for medical staff; all elite tournaments will be encouraged to adopt the Rugby World Cup 2015 player welfare standards.”
Wales said North had shown no signs of concussion in tests and could play against Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.