Six Nations to review HIA protocol from France versus Ireland match

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first_imgTopics Since you’re here… news It appears there is less conspiracy about this one but the needlessness of the cock-up begs questions. The match doctor, astonishingly, was French, so the public thirst for conspiracy may yet linger but the doctor was independent and free from any influence by the France camp.When Antoine Dupont, France’s replacement scrum-half, went down in the 76th minute it was clear he had hurt his right knee. When Nigel Owens stopped the game he tapped his head to signal a suspected head injury. That appears to be the source of the confusion. Later, Owens could be heard pedalling back on that assessment and then, when the French medics tending to the player confirmed that the injury was to Dupont’s leg, Owens became embroiled in discussions with the fourth official and Sexton, Ireland’s captain, confirming the diagnosis of the match doctor, who was never present on the field, that Dupont was going off for an HIA.In this case it was significant because the HIA meant France could bring Maxime Machenaud back on for the final minutes, rather than negotiate them without a specialist scrum-half. That could have proved telling, for France won a penalty at the scrum that restarted proceedings and Machenaud’s prowess as a kicker is formidable. A further three points there and Ireland would need the try they had never looked like scoring.However, the kick was given to Anthony Belleau, the 21-year-old fly-half who had assumed kicking duties when Machenaud had been replaced earlier. He pulled the penalty wide, setting up the remarkable scenes at the end.Belleau had been on since the half-hour, when he replaced his even younger colleague Matthieu Jalibert, making his debut aged 19. Cruelly, Jalibert’s match was cut short when he, too, hurt a knee in collision with Bundee Aki’s. Again, the verdict from the match doctor was HIA. Share on LinkedIn Rugby union Unlike last year, France can be absolved from suspicion because in both cases their medics in attendance could be heard confirming the obvious – that the players were suffering from leg injuries. Jalibert’s head also collided with Aki’s hip, so that HIA call was plausible, but in neither case was the match doctor on the field or able to talk to Owens directly, a situation that will surely be investigated in the review.A miserable day, then, for France’s young half-backs. Jacques Brunel, France’s coach, expects Jalibert to miss the rest of the Six Nations. “He will be out for at least a month, maybe two,” he said. Brunel was less concerned about the injury that rendered Kevin Gourdon a passenger for most of that final passage of play but such was Gourdon’s influence, any absence would be a major inconvenience.Josh van der Flier was Ireland’s only significant casualty, coming off in the first half with a suspected medial ligament injury. Not that they were without their travails. Sexton was plagued by cramp in the final minutes, which renders all the more remarkable his match-winning intervention.Up stepped Ireland’s maestro was to orchestrate his team’s astonishing tour de force in the dying minutes. When Belleau missed his kick in the 78th minute, Sexton took a flat 22 drop-out, which was plucked from the French by the superb Iain Henderson. And so began a classic demonstration of Irish keep-ball that stretched for 41 phases in the rain and more than five minutes.If France’s discipline – and most particularly that of Sébastien Vahaamahina – had been maddeningly lax, there was nothing wrong with their defence. For all that time and possession, Ireland were able to progress no further than France’s 10-metre line, which is when Sexton called for the ball. He was 45 metres out but the drop goal was struck sweetly and soared through the rain, creeping over the bar to spark delirium in the Irish ranks and despair in the French, where the reverse had applied only a few minutes earlier.Ireland’s 15-13 victory was a breathless conclusion the match itself had hardly deserved. Yet it is rugby’s procedures surrounding head injuries that are under scrutiny once more. Share on Twitter Read more … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Joe Schmidt tells Ireland ‘we can’t rely on Johnny Sexton to keep saving us’ Share on Facebook Share on Messenger Share via Emailcenter_img Six Nations Sign up to the Breakdown for the latest rugby union news Read more Share on Pinterest Concussion in sport Another Six Nations match in Paris, another breathtaking finish. And another game overshadowed by controversy regarding head injury assessment protocol. In March last year France snatched a dramatic victory against Wales under suspicion of the most cynical abuse of the HIA system; this time they succumbed to Ireland. To describe Johnny Sexton’s 45-metre drop goal through the insistent rain as dramatic would be to do it a disservice.Once again, though, questions were asked of the manner in which France benefited from a curious application of HIA protocol. A review of two incidents is to be launched by Six Nations Rugby Limited. “Depending on their findings,” a statement read, “SNRL will be considering the next steps in respect of those incidents.” Six Nations 2018 France rugby union team Support The Guardian Share on WhatsApp Ireland rugby union team Reuse this contentlast_img

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