Six Nations 2015: George North concussion row will help make game safer, says Jamie Roberts

Roberts, a qualified doctor, says it will help prevent future concussions

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The Independent Online

Wales centre and qualified doctor Jamie Roberts believes the fallout from the George North concussion controversy will contribute towards making rugby union a safer sport.

The game’s governing body, World Rugby, has said Wales wing North should not have remained on the field after a clash of heads with team-mate Richard Hibbard during last Friday’s Six Nations game against England. But the governing body added that it accepts the Welsh Rugby Union’s explanation surrounding the incident.

North appeared to suffer a momentary loss of consciousness after the 61st-minute collision with Hibbard. The WRU national medical manager, Prav Mathema, subsequently admitted that had the incident been seen by medics North would have been immediately taken off and replaced.

North left the field in the first half after receiving an accidental boot to the head from the England lock Dave Attwood, but he was able to continue after treatment.

World Rugby also announced it would be “immediately investigating, evaluating and promoting implementation” of new measures. These are the practicality of television match official (TMO) technology being expanded to identify head injuries as they happen on the field.

“It’s unfortunate, that second incident [the collision with Hibbard],” said Roberts, speaking at the Wales squad training base yesterday. “I think all the protocols have been followed by the union medical staff. It was unfortunate they didn’t see it happen, the second one [incident].

“All the players trust the medical staff. They are a very experienced bunch, and we trust their calls. It was an unfortunate incident.

“A lot has been made of it, and rightly so. Concussion is a huge part of the game at the moment, and hopefully moving forward, the protocols that we put in place – from our side, there will be video replays now for the medical staff at home and away matches – are going to make the game safer for the players involved.

“Safety of the players is paramount,” Roberts added. “A lot has been made of this incident, but I think the medical team dealt with it fantastically well and did everything in their power and did everything right that they should have done.”

George North leaves the pitch with the Wales team doctor, Geoff Davies

As for World Rugby looking at possible TMO technology to assist in head injury situations, Roberts added: “You look back over the last 10 years at how referees have been able to have a video replay – whether a try has been scored or when certain things have happened – and medics haven’t. I  suppose that is a question that needs to be asked.”


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