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06th Dec 2016

Wales winger George North stood down from rugby duty

Will miss the Leinster Champions Cup games

Patrick McCarry

George North’s health is the main priority at present. Rugby can wait.

Anybody that witnessed North’s head making sickening contact with the pitch, from a height, on Sunday will have worried for his wellbeing.

The winger was contesting a high ball when he was up-ended and left in a heap.

North was taken off for a Head Injury Assessment but returned five minutes later and continued the game, prompting criticism from fans, pundits, player safety groups and former pros.

The furore has seen Saints respond with a strongly-worded statement [below] to announce that North will be stood down from rugby duty with immediate effect. That means North will miss this weekend’s Champions Cup tie with Leinster and is likely to miss the return tie in Dublin.

The full Saints statement reads:

“As at every Aviva Premiership match, the Saints’ medical team has access to video footage to be used to assist the pitchside assessment of injuries. It is important to note this video footage is not always the full range of replay angles available to the TV viewing audience at home.

“The medical team can only base their decisions on the evidence available to them at the time of assessment. World Rugby protocol dictated, given the evidence available to the medical team, the use of a Head Injury Assessment.

“George was fully assessed by the doctor away from the pitch using the established protocols and processes, and passed fit to return to play. As with all such injuries, if evidence suggesting a loss of consciousness had been available to the medical team at the time of assessment, George would not have been allowed to return to the field of play.

“All rugby supporters will no doubt be delighted to learn that George remains well. Nevertheless, Northampton Saints continues to place player welfare as its number one priority, and is referring George to an independent expert as part of the club’s ongoing assessment process and George will be stood down from play until this process is complete.

“There is a concussion management and monitoring protocol in place for all Aviva Premiership matches which provides for independent review and the opportunity for more detailed investigation. This is an ongoing process with several stages, and the club looks forward to contributing to this.

“Additionally Northampton Saints is seeking to work with all parties to improve the availability of all footage that may assist team medics with injury management.”

One hopes North takes all the time he needs and returns in full, robust health.

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