Brian O'Driscoll's uncle* feels rugby facing 'crisis' over concussion 7 years ago

Brian O'Driscoll's uncle* feels rugby facing 'crisis' over concussion

*Second cousin but is known as 'uncle'

It's the issue that just won't go away no matter how much rugby chiefs try and play down its significance. Even today a former Irish rugby player looks to have cut his career short due to a number of serious head injury's picked up playing in the front row.


The buzz word from this year's Six Nations championship was concussion as Johnny Sexton's participation was cast into doubt over repeated knocks to his head, while who could forget George North's double sickening concussion on the opening night against Wales.

We've seen plenty more incidents since and now a former World Rugby medical advisor feels it's time for rugby chiefs to act.

Dr Barry O'Driscoll is known as one of the most foremost authorities on health in rugby over the last number of years as well as being a second cousin to Brian. He's not actually his uncle even though it's a common misconception.

He has been a strong opponent of the various methods introduced by the IRB to try and curb head injuries as well as how players can be allowed back onto the field after passing cognitive tests.


In a letter sent to World Rugby chief Brett Gosper, O'Driscoll once again outlines his fears for not only players but the sport itself.

'Rugby continues to head towards a crisis with the brain injured player as Mark Reason and Willie Stewart have described.

Brett, on 27th January 2015 you stated:-

HIA is to be applied where there is the possibility of a concussion that may not at first be apparent. This is different from a suspected concussion. If there is any suspicion of concussion or any apparent symptoms, we have directed that the player be immediately removed from the game, permanently. In this instance an HIA is not needed and should not be undertaken.”

This playing with words is highly disturbing. If the Doctor suspects the possibility of a concussion that may not at first be apparent, then the Dr is suspicious of a potential concussion.

After the George North travesty the formal response made by World Rugby stated :- “any suspicion of potential concussion then the player is off immediately and permanently.”

I am afraid that World Rugby are now contradicting themselves and simply playing with words. The outcome is that more brain damaged players are being returned to play. The sickening incident with Josh Hohneck this weekend proves this. How can world Rugby claim that the HIA is sensitive yet it allows this player to return to the pitch.
The test does not work, it does not protect the players and is also open to abuse. It is not used by any other sport in the World and has no precedent.
World Rugby initially called this test the Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment. Changing the name of this clinical trial to a Head Injury Assessment will not fool lawyers when litigation starts.

Are World Rugby trying to absolve itself of blame by the statement above? Certainly the Team Dr is now in an impossible position with no medico-legal defence for any sequelae if he/she lets a player back on. By definition, if he/she does the assessment, he/she is suspicious of concussion or of a potential concussion.

WR have watched this for over 2 years and despite being warned, have just manipulated words in desperation.
There must be no more RTP under any circumstances when these players come off the field .…. a) to stop further brain injuries, b) to prevent litigation, c) to stop huge numbers of youngsters and rugby followers across the world being set such an example.

The condemnation from O'Driscoll of the current regulations should hold more water than most opinions as the Irishman was part of the IRB for almost 15 years, before he departed in 2013 over the organisations handling of concussion in the sport.

H/T to Dan Roan