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Review panel rules France didn't use HIAs to gain 'unfair advantage' against Ireland

The findings in relation to two incidents from Ireland’s win in Paris have been published this evening.

Out-half Jalibert suffered a knee injury in the first half.
Out-half Jalibert suffered a knee injury in the first half.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

SIX NATIONS ORGANISERS have this evening said an independent review has ruled that there is no evidence to suggest France manipulated Head Injury Assessment (HIA) protocols to gain an ‘unfair advantage’ in the championship opener against Ireland.

But the HIA Review Panel did rule that both Matthieu Jalibert and Antoine Dupont were not concussed when ordered off for HIAs by the match doctor, adding that it ‘will not be taking any disciplinary action against any of the parties involved in the two incidents.’

Six Nations Rugby last week referred two HIA-related incidents following Ireland’s dramatic 13-15 win at the Stade de France.

French half-backs Jalibert and Dupont both left the field during the game due to knee ligament injuries but were also sent for HIAs, and in the second case — that of replacement scrum-half Dupont — it meant that he could be replaced by a player who had already been substituted.

Starting scrum-half Maxime Machenaud came back onto the pitch, whereas France would have been forced to field replacement wing Benjamin Fall instead had the HIA not been called.

In releasing the findings this evening, Six Nations Rugby said: “The HIA Review Panel was chaired by Roger Morris (a solicitor and experienced rugby disciplinary tribunal member from Wales), and comprised Jeremy Summers (a solicitor and experienced rugby disciplinary tribunal member from England), Dr Jon Patricios (a medical doctor and a member of World Rugby’s independent concussion advisory group from South Africa) and Dr Thierry Hermerel (the Chief Medical Officer of the Fédération Française de Rugby).”

In respect of the incident involving Jalibert, the HIA Review Panel concluded:

  • the player had not suffered a concussion during the relevant incident and therefore could (if not for an injury that he had sustained to his knee) have returned to the pitch after the HIA;
  • the decision to call for an HIA was not made by anyone who was formally connected with the French team, rather it was made by the match day doctor, supported by the video doctor, and was based on the player having been on the ground (motionless) for a period of time; and
  • while there was some debate about whether or not it had been appropriate for the match day doctor to call for an HIA in the circumstances, there was no evidence of anyone within the FFR seeking to gain a competitive advantage.

And in respect of the incident involving Dupont, the findings were as follows:

  • the player had not suffered a concussion during the relevant incident and therefore could (if not for an injury that he had sustained to his knee and the match having come to an end) have returned to the pitch after the HIA;
  • the decision to call for an HIA was not made by anyone who was formally connected with the French team, rather it was made by the match day doctor, supported by the video doctor, and was based on the match officials’ earlier indication that an HIA was required;
  • although the match day doctor and the video doctor should not have simply accepted the match officials’ indication that an HIA was required, it was understandable that they called for an HIA in those circumstances; and
  • again, there was no evidence of anyone within the FFR seeking to gain a competitive advantage.

The statement added: “The HIA Review Panel also recommended certain issues be clarified in the future to try to avoid similar cases arising, and Six Nations Rugby will be liaising with World Rugby and the relevant parties on those issues. Six Nations Rugby will not be taking any disciplinary action against any of the parties involved in the two incidents.”

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