Pitch-side replays to be introduced for Wales medics

The Welsh team medics will have access to pitch-side video replays for all their other RBS 6 Nations matches this spring so that they do not miss another incident like Friday’s, when George North was momentarily knocked out but played on.

None of the Wales management or medics saw North fall to the floor after the collision around three-quarters of the way through the game against England and their national medical manager Prav Mathema says they would not have let him play on if they had seen him flat out.

North was taken off for a head injury assessment after a separate clash in the first half, but was only treated on the pitch after his second knock. In a video on the WRU website, Mathema says the Wales management and medics are taking immediate action to prevent a repeat of that.

“For the second incident on 60 minutes, regrettably I was unsighted and the other pitch-side medic on the far side was also unsighted,” says Mathema. “I saw him (North) getting up and when I arrived he was completely lucid. I deemed him fit to continue.

“Having seen it since, he looks like he had a momentary loss of consciousness and in that case he should definitely be removed from the field of play. I didn’t see the video footage until after the game.

Medical man: Prav Mathema (right) at work in another Wales game. Photo: Inpho

Medical man: Mathema (right) at work. Photo: Inpho

“We have seen where our protocols need to improve and for the next four games of the Six Nations we are certainly going to have instant video replays for both our home and away matches.”

The WRU have also spoken to World Rugby about the incident and the international governing body issued a statement this morning saying they will now request all elite competitions to provide pitch-side video for medical staff.

World Rugby will also look at whether the television match officials’ technology can be used to identify head injuries as they happen. Independent medics and video review will be used at all 48 Rugby World Cup matches later this year.

Back in Wales, Mathema says North has been treated as a concussion victim since the match on Friday evening and is undergoing the “return to play protocol”, which means he is monitored all week and undergoes a step-by-step return to activity.

See the full Mathema interview on the WRU website here.

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