World Rugby criticized English club Northampton’s failure to properly manage George North’s head injury, saying yesterday the team did not correctly identify the problem.
North, who has suffered a series of concussions over the past two years, was allowed to return to the field by Northampton’s medical staff, despite appearing to lose consciousness after he landed on his head following a tackle during a match against Leicester on Dec. 3.
Northampton said its doctors did not have access to full television footage that appeared to show that the Wales winger had been knocked out, and were happy for him to continue playing following a Head Injury Assessment.
One of the top teams in England, Northampton escaped sanctions despite a Concussion Management Review Group stating last month that North should not have returned to the field of play.
North has since returned to action.
“While it is impossible to completely remove the risk of error, World Rugby remains disappointed that there was a failure in this case to identify and manage the injury appropriately, in particular considering North’s medical history,” the Dublin-based governing body said in a statement.
Following its collaborative review with England’s Rugby Football Union, World Rugby added: “Despite the failing by the club to correctly apply World Rugby’s head-injury management protocols, World Rugby has recognized that the RFU and PRL (Premiership Rugby) acted swiftly and appropriately to implement measures with Northampton Saints and other clubs to reduce the probability of future non-compliance.”
North suffered three concussions on club and international duty between November 2014 and March 2015, forcing him to spend time away from the game on two separate occasions.
World Rugby has made the handling of concussions a priority in recent years.
“We must continue to strive to make our game as safe as possible for players at all levels of the game,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said. “World Rugby will continue to work closely with all unions to ensure an environment of compliance in this important area.” AP