Auckland (AFP) – New Zealand Rugby on Friday conceded medical staff made a mistake by allowing Jeremy Loughman to play on in a tour match against the Maori All Blacks, despite the Ireland prop displaying clear concussion symptoms.
NZR medical manager Karen Rassmussen said a review of the incident identified a “gap” in the head injury assessment (HIA) process, namely that an independent doctor and support staff did not see damning television footage of Loughman staggering and falling after taking a blow to the head in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s game.
Uncapped Munster prop Loughman was assessed and passed the HIA protocol, allowing him to return to the game 10 minutes later. He was replaced at halftime.
Rasmussen said an NZR review of the incident found the 26-year-old should have been removed from the game immediately and not returned under World Rugby’s guidelines for players who “display clear concussion symptoms”.
“We have identified a gap in communications, which meant critical video evidence was not fully accounted for as part of the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) process undertaken by the independent match day medical team,” she said.
“We will be reinforcing the full HIA process and protocols for the remainder of (Ireland’s tour) to ensure video evidence is communicated more accurately between independent match day medical staff to enable them to make the right call with regards to player safety.”
Ireland coach Andy Farrell said Thursday he accepted the diagnosis of independent medical staff and that Loughman was taken off later as a health precaution.
Last week, World Rugby announced that players with a history of concussions or who fail off-field HIAs will be stood down for 12 days, an extension of the previous period of seven days.
Player welfare lobby group Progressive Rugby on Thursday criticised Loughman’s treatment at a time when the sport is making a concerted push to lessen the prevalence and impact of concussions.
Progressive Rugby said in a statement it represented a failure of protocol and processes.
“These incidents are not only potentially catastrophic for the player, it sends an appalling message to the wider rugby community and to those considering becoming part of it.
“It is deeply alarming, just days after World Rugby’s bold announcement of a ‘gold standard’ concussion protocol from 1st July, that a player clearly demonstrating signs of a traumatic brain injury has not been removed whilst in full glare of the media.”
© 2022 AFP