Leinster Rugby Head Coach has stated that decisions on whether a player is concussed or able to continue in a game should be left up to team doctors. His comments come following the decision to allow Toulouse’s Florian Fritz continue playing in the Top14 quarter-final despite having collapsed while walking off and Leinster’s decision to replace Brian O’Driscoll and Fergus McFadden in their Pro12 semi-final.
“The number one priority for the team doctor is the player welfare of his players. I don’t think you’re going to be able to get a better decision by an independent, because they [team doctors] have the best interest of the players at heart and they are going to make the best decision to protect the players’ welfare. It’s a no-brainer.”
But while not as horrific as in the case of Fritz, in 2009 while playing for the Lions O’Driscoll continued playing following a huge hit on Springbok Danie Rossouwin which left both needing treatment and more recently in 2013, when O’Driscoll returned to the pitch against France for Ireland having suffered from a blow to his head minutes previously. O’Connor believes that is a the exception rather than the rule in rugby.
“If you get it wrong, then coach, team doctor are the ones that are accountable. There’s a lot of talk about it this year, concussion and the new protocols, but it’s pretty black and white. It was a shame that that happened in France, but that’s a one-off relative to the amount of rugby that’s played week in, week out.”
O’Driscoll and McFadden were both taken off during the semi-final but when asked whether either suffered from concussion, O’Connor stated he didn’t know.
“I don’t even know, to be honest. (That was) the label that was attached to it. But they’re as good as gold, they’ve done the protocols and trained all week. They haven’t got any side effects at all. The technicalities and that around being knocked out and concussed… there’s varying degrees of it and he (McFadden) was pretty mild, as was Brian. They’ve recovered fully and trained well. They were running around in the middle of last week… they’re fine.”