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21st Dec 2016

Scarcely believable George North ruling another blow to rugby’s efforts to improve safety

First Hartley, now this

Mikey Stafford

Northampton Saints will face no sanction for their treatment of George North’s latest head injury.

The Premiership club were widely criticised for allowing the Wales winger to return to the field of play against Leicester earlier this month, despite television footage clearly showing North had lost consciousness following a heavy fall.

Thankfully North got through the game unscathed but, once they realised the error they had made, Saints stood North down from all rugby activity. The 24-year-old is expected to return against Sale this Friday, having missed the back-to-back Champions Cup defeats to Leinster.

On Wednesday the RFU’s new Concussion Management Review Group (CMRG) published their report on the handling of North’s injury and concluded that the Premiership club have no case to answer and will not be punished.

This is despite acknowledging that “Northampton Saints medical team has accepted that North may have lost consciousness and therefore should not have returned to play”.

“The CMRG considered the welfare of North was always at the centre of Northampton’s actions, and does not consider that the medical team (or the club) failed to complete the HIA protocol nor intentionally ignored the player’s best interests,” reads the report, published on the RFU website.

“In addition and although not a determining factor, the CMRG is aware that the player appears to have had no residual effects.

“For the above reasons the CMRG will not be imposing any sanction against the club or any of its individuals as a result of this incident.” 

Considering North has previously been sidelined for six months due to a series of concussive incidents, this judgement will jar with rugby fans.

There has been a focus on high tackles and head shots in rugby in recent months but this judgement, coupled with Dylan Hartley’s relatively lenient six-week ban for striking Sean O’Brien, will have many questioning the appetite for change.


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