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12th Mar 2022

Jonny Wilkinson makes great James Ryan point that many people are forgetting

Patrick McCarry

James Ryan

“Thoughts are with him.”

Following Ireland’s 32-15 win over 14-man England, Jonny Wilkinson put all match chat to one side to focus on the wellbeing of one man – James Ryan.

The Leinster and Ireland lock, who has struggled coming back from a few concussions in recent years, shipped a fearsome blow to the head at Twickenham, after only 82 seconds.

Ryan was making an early carry when England’s Charlie Ewels went in too high on a tackle attempt, with the crown of his head colliding with the side of Ryan’s. He hit the deck and needed immediate medical treatment.

James Ryan history with concussions

As recently as last November, James Ryan went to see a concussion consultant after he failed a Head Injury Assessment in the Autumn Nations Cup win over Argentina. He also missed out on some Leinster matches before the end of last season, due to concussion.

The 25-year-old has shipped a number of concussions over the past few years, and it was disconcerting to see him in obvious trouble as he was helped to leave the field of play.

England supporters were upset with the red card decision and whistled loudly as Ewels made his way to the sideline and as Johnny Sexton lined up the resulting penalty.

Jonny Wilkinson makes excellent point

Following the game, England head coach Eddie Jones said he had ‘no question’ about the red card against Ewels. Ireland coach Andy Farrell commented:

“James obviously didn’t return to the field, but he’s fine. He’s recovered well and was celebrating with the lads. He’ll go through the [Return To Play] protocols again.”

The incident was discussed at half-time and full-time during the ITV coverage of the match, with the entire panel agreeing red was the correct card colour shown to the Bath lock. Amid all the talk of tough sanctions and playing with 14 men, former England captain Jonny Wilkinson put it best when, speaking earnestly, he commented:

“At the same time, as we are talking about the red card, it’s really important for James Ryan, who looked a bit groggy there, that he’s in good health.

“Thoughts are with him but, still, a great day for Ireland.”

It can be easy in rugby, with eight subs on each side ready to roll on so the action does not slow down, to focus on the match itself and the one coming up next.

As Wilkinson reminded us all, though, these games can take a cruel toll on players.

Ireland may still be in the championship hunt, but James Ryan may have to sit out their upcoming encounter with Scotland.

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