Loose Pass

Date published: April 28 2015

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This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with player welfare, a not-so-hot ticket for the Champions Cup and another Nick Cummins comedy gem.

Painful viewing

The battle between Premiership giants Northampton and Saracens was supposed to serve as a great advert for the game but sadly the outstanding effort of both sides was overshadowed by what appeared to be another shocking incident of a serious injury not being managed correctly.

Just a few short weeks after Wales wing George North was allowed to play on after a clear head clash and suspected concussion was missed by medics during the Six Nations clash with England, Saracens prop Kieran Longbottom was given the green light to continue despite suffering a similarly alarming injury.

Longbottom, making his long-awaited return from a long-term foot injury, appeared to pass out under the pressure of a second half scrum.

In front of a 30,000 crowd at stadium:mk and a bumper TV audience, he collapsed as the scrum broke up and his face hammered into the turf. Replays suggested he may have also suffered a mild fit with his body appearing to convulse as he lay on the ground.

His Saracens team-mate Kelly Brown, to his immense credit, immediately registered Longbottom's plight and went to his aid and thankfully he appeared to swiftly recover consciousness.

After suffering such an alarming injury you would have thought that Longbottom would have been withdrawn – but sadly no. After a check by the Saracens medics he was soon packing down again.

You could perhaps understand the naturalised Australian-born prop wanting to remain in the mix having sat out for so long, and also been linked with a possible promotion to the England ranks, but that decision was not his to make.

Quite simply he should have been withdrawn by the medics, his coaches or just dragged off the field by anyone present who saw the incident unfold on a TV screen.

World Rugby is “investigating, evaluating and promoting” an extension to the use of TV technology to include the monitoring of injuries following the shocking management North's injury and we are assured that such an innovation will be in place for this year' Rugby World Cup.

But surely we have everything we need already – the TV cameras highlighted every frightening aspect of the incident with each replay hammering home the seriousness of the situation.

Someone should have conveyed the seriousness of the injury to the medics in case it had been missed.

What we are clearly missing is someone of sufficient authority and responsibility to say 'STOP! That player is in a bad way and his game is over.'

World Rugby must be praised driving home the message that player welfare is of paramount importance as do Saracens for the prompt treatment that flanker Jackson Wray received following a nasty and clear concussion earlier in the same game.

But everyone just looks foolish when there is no consistency and the message is seen to be ignored by the elite level of the game.

I feel guilty and partly responsible for his treatment and I only watched the incident on my TV. It was a bit like witnessing a car accident and not being able to help in any way, frozen in shock.

The clubs and sport in general do not have any excuses, they should be ready for such incidents and be primed to act immediately.

World Rugby are no doubt worried they might face a legal nightmare similar to that seen in United States where the NFL are set to payout millions to compensate former players having allegedly hidden knowledge of concussion risks – and such high profile examples of players being allowed to play on having suffered head injuries are only going to fuel those fears.

You have to hand it to the Hurricanes

A week after suffering their first reverse of the Super Rugby season to the Waratahs they were back to their free-runnning best as they put the Reds away in Brisbane.

After having their wings clipped by their Australian rivals we were told that Chiefs coach Chris Boyd had stressed the need to re-evaluate their risk-reward approach but that's just not their way.

Another bonus point and an historic fifth straight away win was their due reward for an expansive and inventive performance with the likes of TJ Perenara, Julian Savea and Ma'a Nonu all shining.

They sniff and opportunity and they take it in devastating style. You sense not even the impressive artillery present at the Suncorp Stadium to help mark ANZAC Day could have cut the 'Canes down.

The game they play is so easy on the eye and they are a credit to the Super Rugby competition.

Is the title finally heading to Wellington?

A not so hot ticket

This weekend's European Rugby Champions Cup is supposed to be the hottest ticket in town but a better description might be lukewarm.

Concerns that the all-French encounter between defending champions Toulon and Clermont Auvergne might not attract a bumper crowd to the 82,000 capacity Twickenham led to an interesting ticket promotion being unveiled this week.

Fans who purchased a ticket to this season's Aviva Premiership finale at Twickenham would be given a free ticket to the European title-decider.

Understandably the amazing promotion has been quite popular but you can't help but think that it devalues the inaugural Champions Cup final – a match that is supposed to be the showpiece event of the European club rugby season.

The location is clearly not convenient for French supporters but the Heineken Cup final has traditionally attracted fans from all over the continent, keen to share in what has always been a great occasion.

And surely the multi-national Toulon squad also offers plenty of reason for London's sizeable Australian, New Zealand and South African communities to join attend? Let's hope they join the party.

Cummins to America

Rugby union has been blessed with some great characters who have entertained – and in some cases infuriated in the case of Campo – over the years and that tradition is clearly alive and well with Nick Cummins.

The Honey Badger out did himself last week with his latest post-match present for Western Force TV inadvertently doing what the sport has been striving to do for years – make it big in the United States.

His analysis – that included such gems as “There’s a bees wanger innit and we’re not far off” and “I sound like I’ve been bloody whacked in the Niagara Falls” – may have required translation but that did not stop it from going viral after being picked up by a few US outlets.

Bonkers but brilliant. You cannot underestimate the magnetic power of such characters and they must be treasured in this increasingly professional age.

Loose Pass is compiled by former scrum.com editor Graham Jenkins

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