Super Rugby Pacific relax concussion protocol after All Blacks star’s criticism

Colin Newboult
Scott Barrett in action for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

Scott Barrett in action for the Crusaders in Super Rugby Pacific.

There were changes made to the HIA protocol ahead of the latest round of Super Rugby Pacific after it was subject to debate in Round One.

There was criticism of the new smart mouthguards following the Chiefs’ victory over the Crusaders when Anton Lienert-Brown and Quinten Strange were forced to go off.

Potential new All Blacks captain Scott Barrett was not impressed, with the ‘Saders lock calling their checks a “step too far.”

Scotland’s view

Complaints also came from the northern hemisphere after Scotland saw Zander Fagerson withdrawn for a HIA, much to the prop’s surprise.

Head coach Gregor Townsend stated that rugby should not be trusting technology that he feels is “unproven.”

Slight alterations have therefore been made in Super Rugby Pacific with the protocols being relaxed slightly.

“Players will continue to wear the iMGs this weekend but will not be required to immediately leave the field for an HIA when their mouthguard triggers an alert to pitch-side doctors,” a statement read.

“Instead, players will be checked by an on-field doctor after a trigger alert has been received. If the doctor has any concerns the player will then leave the field for an HIA.

“If the player passes an on-field check, they will still be subject to a full HIA, either at half-time or full-time.”

Super Rugby have not ruled out bringing back the process which was used on the opening weekend, but stated that further tests are required.

“World Rugby will run further trials in round three of Super Rugby Pacific to test improvements to the data-transfer process, with a view to reinstating iMG alert protocols once these issues are fully resolved,” they added.

Player welfare

The southern hemisphere governing body insist that player welfare is their main priority and that the pitch-side doctors still have the power to remove individuals for a HIA if they deem it necessary.

“Players will continue to wear iMGs in training and matches and all trigger alerts measuring an impact above 75g will be managed by medical teams to protect player welfare,” the statement read.

“The existing HIA protocols have not been affected and the Match Day Doctor still has the power to unilaterally remove any injured player for HIA assessment, or to remove a player from the game if necessary.

“Player safety remains the top priority for World Rugby, SANZAAR and the Super Rugby Pacific competition, and there is a shared understanding between all stakeholders that iMGs are a key technology for the game moving forward.”

READ MORE: World Rugby issues response after Gregor Townsend’s criticism of ‘unproven’ technology