I have to say I was somewhat gobsmacked on Saturday when Wallaby flanker George Smith returned to the fray against the Lions some 5 minutes or so after having been poleaxed in a clash of heads with the Lions hooker Richard “Fat Robbie Savage” Hibbard.
Smith’s legs had clearly gone after the collision – if it
was boxing the referee would certainly have stopped the fight for safety
reasons – but it appears that he was deemed fine to continue by the medics having
“passed the concussion tests.”
The question is this - how hard can these tests be?
It used to be the case that anyone concussed had to take a
mandatory 3 week break from the game – an eminently sensible practice given
that effectively what has happened is that a player has suffered a neurological
injury. Then the protocol was changed to a week – still way too short in my
experience (and I’ve been reasonably seriously concussed a couple of times) - but enough, apparently, to allow sufficient neurological tests to be conducted.
I was surprised, therefore, to learn that rugby now operates
a “5-minute rule” – where medics are allowed to test a player for an entire 5
minutes to check if he is ok to carry on playing. Apparently the player only
has to stand up straight without falling over and pass a basic memory test.
5 minutes. Is someone seriously trying to tell me that
standing up and remembering your name is sufficient to convince a medic that
you have not suffered a possibly serious brain injury?
If this lunacy continues someone, somewhere is going to die or
suffer permanent brain damage.
I trust the IRB have
checked their insurance cover.