France's use of HIA protocol under review after 'a number of incidents' in Paris

Six Nations organisers have released a statement.

Matthieu Jalibert left the field injured in the first half.
Matthieu Jalibert left the field injured in the first half.

SIX NATIONS RUGBY Limited (SNRL) has confirmed it is investigating a number of incidents relating to Head Injury Assessments during Ireland’s thrilling victory over France in Paris yesterday.

Questions were again raised over the home side’s use of the HIA protocols when both out-half Matthieu Jalibert and scrum-half Antoine Dupont appeared to suffer leg injuries but under the insistence of the French doctor, left the field for HIAs.

TV replays clearly showed Dupont sustain a knee injury in the 76th minute, but the French doctor informed referee Nigel Owens that he was going off for a HIA, thus allowing Maxime Machenaud — already replaced in the 66th minute — to return to the field.

The Racing 92 scrum-half was allowed continue despite protestations from several Ireland players, including Johnny Sexton, before the Ireland out-half landed a remarkable match-winning drop goal.

After Sexton repeatedly questioned the officials about the nature of Dupont’s injury, Owens said: “I have an official match doctor who is telling me it is a HIA. I am no medic and I am going to go with the official match doctor. That is the way we are going to carry on with the game.”

In a statement released this afternoon, tournament organisers say an independent HIA Review Processor will now study the incidents and depending on the panel’s findings, the next steps — if any — will be determined.

“SNRL has in place a Head Injury Assessment Protocol that applies to the 2018 Championships, which has been approved by World Rugby,” it read.

“As part of that protocol, there is a process by which HIA/concussion-related incidents are reviewed. This involves an initial review by an independent HIA Review Processor, Alligin (UK) Limited, and then in certain cases a further review by an HIA Review Panel.

“The HIA Review Panel can as part of its review make recommendations (among other things) as to further education and training that is required, and/or whether disciplinary action should be taken by SNRL. This two-stage review process is required by World Rugby.

“The HIA Review Processor is reviewing a number of incidents from the France v Ireland match in the senior men’s championship. Depending on their findings, SNRL will be considering the next steps in respect of those incidents.”

Speaking after the game, France head coach Jacques Brunel said his side had no control over both players leaving the field for HIAs.

“They were collisions, but the head injury protocol was decided by the independent doctor; it wasn’t our decision,” he said.

“Both players had knee injuries, but the independent doctor decided that by the protocol.”

Last year, the French Rugby Federation was reprimanded over the controversial substitution of prop Uini Atonio during their win over Wales in Paris.

A review group found France had not complied with HIA protocol and/or the relevant laws of the game after Atonio was replaced during the dying stages, with preferred tighthead Rabah Slimani coming back on.

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