Opinion – System Failure

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MUCH has been made this week of the Conor Murray ‘incident’ in Glasgow.
The Irish international appeared to have been knocked out by a tackle during the second half of the game and was later taken from the field for a Head Injury Assessment, or HIA, as you may have heard it said.
The actions of the Munster medical staff, for me, are not in question. They removed their player, ran a World Rugby verified test on him; he passed and they left him return to play. That is that cleared up.
However, readers of this column know that I have an issue with the HIA in the first place. I also have an issue with the optics surrounding the Conor Murray incident and indeed any incident where a player looks to have suffered a head trauma.
For me, the issue is around the grey area of the professional/ elite game. The IRFU and elite rugby have a great system for amateur players, Stop-Inform-Rest-Return, where players who suffer a head trauma or suspected concussion are removed from the field and not allowed play for at least three weeks.
In the Elite level of the game, it is often the case where a player can return to play in that very same game or he/ she can return the following week. Yes, there is more medical attention and baseline tests in the pro game but when former World Rugby medical chief Dr Barry O’Driscoll says, when speaking to RTE, “What it has highlighted now, is that World Rugby has lost total control of concussion, threatened concussion and what to do about  it. ”World Rugby is blaming everybody, clubs and doctors. World Rugby has got this wrong so doctors are not sure what to do”.
‘Doctors differ and patients die’ is a famous quote. Can World Rugby not try and protect everyone? The rules need to change to protect everyone involved before it is too late.