Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

05th August 2013 11:01

Share:

George Smith being checked out

Hot topic: Concussion

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with head-banging, a look towards the Rugby Championship, Richard Cockerill and the Kings...

There have been swathes of words on the subject of blows to the head over the past few weeks, yet we here cannot remember one jot of actual action - bar that long-winded IRB press release. They could have just clicked the 'it's complicated' button and we'd have been just as informed.

Many of the other words have been on two subjects: firstly, that players actually know how to cheat the concussion 'tests' administered on the sideline (although there is another school of thought which says that as long as you can count to one and don't fall over you are likely to be ok), followed by the remarkably-timed report that a surgeon has found evidence of repeated concussions leading to dementia.

Agreed, the links are worth mentioning in dispatches, but is this really something new? Playing rugby with concussion is dangerous, doing it over and over again even more so? The timing and extreme content of that study does lend itself to being something of a media sensation campaign, pressure leverage.

But someone has to do something like that, because nobody else seems to be doing anything at all. There have been no revised concussion test rules, no abolition of the concussion test in favour of a common sense analysis of whether a person can stand straight or not, barely even a whisper from trainers and coaches that they will insist on following the 'if in doubt, sit it out' mantra.

How far does it need to go before there is some common sense? Well, here's a threshold of sorts: 5,000 plaintiffs spread among 250 lawsuits filed by NFL players against the NFL (who are the employers of all players). A month ago, the cases went to mediation, which suggests that the NFL are going to settle rather than admit they got the concussion issue badly wrong. Would rugby have to go that far first too or is someone going to do something about it?


This year's Rugby Championship is going to be fascinating. You have Australia, reeling from a Lions Test series defeat and champing at the bit for a new, Quade Cooper-led beginning. You have South Africa, whose local well of talent is still so dry that Fourie du Preez has been called from Japan. You have Argentina, who have quietly taken their elite away to Florida with Graham Henry and could emerge with anything. And you have New Zealand, who still seem unable to regenerate entirely.

Managing players to take the All Blacks through to 2015 is one thing, but it's costing the team in terms of opportunities and experience for the youngsters now. The squad named by Steve Hansen has only two centres in it - one if you refer to a 12 as second five-eighth - and both are the wrong side of 30 already, one can't even find a team to play for, so wretched has been his domestic form.

The return of Richie McCaw means no place for Matt Todd, who really has played well for the Crusaders this year. It may also dumb down the chances of Sam Cane continuing his progression.

We'll not start being silly and saying that this is a team about to be derailed, but only two years out from a World Cup, the AB management is looking more and more as though it is stacking all hopes on the old heads surviving injury, which also looks to mean the up and comers may not get the chances they deserve - or, and going on form this Super Rugby competition, the new crop may just not be good enough.

Sticking with the oldies is a policy that has worked in the past - not least for England - but with frustrated players still exiting by the dozen and thus ineligible for selection under the NZRU's overseas policy, leaving a lesser and thinner crop behind, it's one fraught with risk.


Brilliant line at the bottom of Leicester's statement on Richard Cockerill's generally unsuccessful appeal this week: "We remain disappointed with the RFU's conduct in this matter..."

We are reasonably certain that, with Cockerill having bellowed the words 'smash the c**** because they aren't getting any protection', as well as going on the record as saying the words 'f***' and 'f***ing' were justified in the circumstances, as well as maintaining that players who swear at referees need not be sent off or disciplined, the RFU remain disappointed with Cockerill's conduct in this matter too.

Also, we are reasonably certain that out of a clash between a foul-mouthed coach and the domestic game's governing body, we know who is bigger and more important.


And while on the subject of futile ranting, these from Alan Solomons after the Kings lost their Super Rugby status - with common sense answers:

"I think it is an absolute disgrace that we are not in Super Rugby..." - It was something of a disgrace the way you got in in the first place actually...

"We got the rough end of refereeing decisions in the first match and it cost us our Super Rugby status. To say the least it is unsatisfactory." - Nothing to do with the number of actual Super Rugby matches you lost then.

"The South African Rugby Union have to ensure that we are in the Premier Division of the Currie Cup at the very least." - No they don't. You have to do that by winning the pool games and then the play-offs, just like everyone else.

Anything else? OK - now go get out of the Currie Cup first division.

By Richard Anderson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs AustraliaBarbarians vs Australia Preview
USA vs New ZealandUSA vs New Zealand Preview
More International Match fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
Sunday , November 2
Saracens vs Harlequins13:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs EdinburghLeinster vs Edinburgh Preview
Glasgow vs Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Ospreys vs ConnachtOspreys vs Connacht Preview
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse13:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
Sunday , November 2
Toulon vs Grenoble13:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615