"Discrepancies" led to Wallaby playing on after HIA

World Rugby review find Nic White concussion should have resulted in permanent removal

World Rugby has concluded that Wallabies scrum-half Nic White should have been permanently removed from play against Ireland this month, after suffering two head collisions in quick succession.

The nine visibly stumbled as he went off – which should have resulted in automatic removal from play under ‘Criteria 1’ of the sport’s head injury protocols – but he instead underwent a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and returned to the field after.

Related: Brain injuries in rugby: a special report

An independent review found the second impact had not been seen by medical officials. World Rugby have given assurances that had the second impact been seen, White would have been permanently removed.

Despite this being missed at the time, White was later stood down from playing the Wallabies’ next game, owing to the 12-day stand-down for concussed players.

World Rugby said an independent review found of the Nic White concussion: “(It was) defensible for the medical team to remove White for an HIA after the first incident but the second incident resulted in Criteria 1 signs according to the World Rugby HIA process, which should have resulted in White’s permanent removal from the field.

“Both the independent match day doctor and team doctor were in the process of reviewing video footage for the first incident when the second occurred.

“The second incident was not communicated to either doctor and therefore, in performing White’s HIA did not review any additional footage.

“Having been made aware of the second incident after the game, both doctors reviewed the footage and declared a Criteria 1 diagnosis.

“Discrepancies around process and communication, rather than interpretation of player signs, were therefore the key factors to affect this particular HIA process.”

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