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Head injury controversies sparks players' union to demand 'openness and transparency'

International Rugby Players CEO Omar Hassanein stressed the need for the “the right public message” over the issue.

Tomas Francis leaves the pitch for a HIA during Wales Six Nations clash with England.
Tomas Francis leaves the pitch for a HIA during Wales Six Nations clash with England.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE BODY REPRESENTING rugby players worldwide says it has contacted World Rugby and Six Nations Ltd regarding several head injury issues in the recent men’s Six Nations competition.

The Six Nations saw a number of controversial incidents involving head injuries, the most notable of which saw Wales’ Tomas Francis return to the pitch against England having been removed for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) following a heavy blow to the head earlier in the game.

Television footage showed Francis staggering following a clash of heads with team-mate Owen Watkin, and he also appeared to lean on the post pads for support.

However, Francis was reintroduced in the second half and resumed his place in the starting team for the round four meeting with France, despite calls to rest the player.

There was also a high-profile incident in the U20 Six Nations clash between Italy and England, where the referee was put under pressure by the English medical team regarding a HIA.

The players’ group have now called for “openness and transparency and the need to project the right public message on head injuries.”

Omar Hassanein, the International Rugby Players CEO said: “We cannot place enough emphasis on the importance of player safety, particularly where head injuries are concerned.

“This involves, not only the continued evolution of protocols based on science, but also ensuring that everyone plays their part in the proper implementation of those protocols.

“We believe in the need for openness and transparency and the need to project the right public message on head injuries, as well as the requirement for incidents of this nature to be investigated in a comprehensive and timely fashion.”

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A new episode of The Front Row, in partnership with Guinness, is out now. After Ireland’s Triple Crown win, Murray Kinsella gives us the rundown on his team of the tournament. Ireland international Sene Naoupu also joins the panel to chat about her career and look ahead to the start of the Women’s Six Nations. Click here to subscribe or listen below:


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