Ruck'n Maul
Ruck'n Maul: Video concussion reviews a wise move
Greg Growden
February 27, 2015
Ruck'n Maul: Reds right to stand Hunt down

The Wallabies team management were rightfully castigated for allowing George Smith to return to the field during the British & Irish Lions Sydney Test two years ago even though clearly concussed. So the Australian Rugby Union must be applauded for ensuring this doesn't happen again, with the introduction of a pitch-side video review whereby match-day doctors can call players off for an examination if the medicos believe a player is concussed.

This saw Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale beckoned from the field last Friday night after the ARU's chief medical officer, Warren McDonald, reviewed video replays of the player's head knock against the Rebels. McDonald, sitting alongside ARU concussion specialist Dr Ryan Kohler made the call for Beale to be examined. Beale came to the sideline, passed the test, and was allowed to return to the field. For the next few rounds, McDonald and Kohler intend to attend all Australian-based games to introduce pitch-side video reviews with the match-day doctors. They will continue to attend the Australian games until the doctors are familiar with the system. When to call for a concussion test will remain the match day doctor's decision.

Super Rugby Preview: Round 3

Reservations continue at Tahland following new CEO appointment

The appointment of Greg Harris as the new Waratahs chief executive has been met with delight from some, reservations from others. In Harris's favour is that he has a strong football pedigree - unlike some of his predecessors at Tahland: he has played three football codes (rugby league, union and AFL) and understands the rugby business after CEO stints at Western Force and the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA). But it appears his close involvement with Sydney University, where he was in charge of its sports department for many years, irks those who believe that club has too much of a say in the running of Australian rugby. Harris would be smart enough to know that he has to convince the disbelievers that his Students links are long behind him.

The mail is that NSW Rugby Union officials, rather than the Waratahs board, were the strong drivers in having Jason Allen moved on and the new CEO appointed. One of Harris's first jobs at the Waratahs will be selecting who takes over from Michael Cheika as head coach next year. While there are reservations among some at Waratahs board level about a foreigner taking over, former All Blacks player Daryl Gibson has the player's support - specially after his strong involvement in last year's Super Rugby title triumph.

Harris' relationship with ARU boss Bill Pulver will also be interesting to watch, especially as RUPA was so vocal in its opposition to Super Rugby expansion, believing an Australian-New Zealand based competition was a smarter idea. Pulver's position is also delicate. While many look upon Rob Clarke as Pulver's successor, one high-profile Australian rugby figure is lobbying strongly for the ARU CEO position, telling people it's time for change, citing long-running broadcasting concerns about the viability and appeal of the National Rugby Championship. This figure believes he has the support of several ARU board members.

Can rugby injuries get any stranger?

Martin Castrogiovanni is the latest victim of the odd football injury, being forced out of the Italy-Scotland Six Nations match after a friend's dog bit him on the nose. ESPN colleague Huw Richards has chronicled some of rugby's most bizarre injuries in a column.

Here's some more from this side of the world:

  • Former NSW fullback Mat Rogers injured an ankle at training after he fell down a pothole left by a crew filming a Wiggles DVD.
  • Brisbane Brothers centre Paul Mills missed a major game after he cricked a neck muscle while combing his hair.
  • Northern Suburbs third-grade front-rower Don Gibson was sidelined for several weeks in the early 1980s after dislocating his knee while wrestling with his wife.
  • Alan Peterson, Eastwood's talented centre in the 1966 grand final against Randwick, rolled an ankle while running down the race at the old Sydney Sportsground but he so embarrassed and worried he would be abused by his forwards that he hobbled through the rest of the game.
  • Terrey Hills subbies Irish representative Ron Mulligan was sidelined in 2003 when attacked by a wallaby. Not a flighty Wallabies player on a Mad Monday escapade, but a real-life marsupial. Mulligan was looking after a house where several rock wallabies lived in the backyard. One of them didn't like the look of Mulligan and attacked him, damaging his kneecap.

But the best excuse still goes to New Zealander Jack Finlay, who was picked to play against Australia in 1946. On his way to Auckland for the game, a hungry Finlay hopped out at a railway station to buy himself a meat pie and ate it while standing on the platform. While Finlay was engrossed in his pie, a train accelerated out of the station, and Finlay was hit by an open carriage door. Shortly afterwards, he announced his retirement.

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Pat McCabe's new life in rugby

Pat McCabe speaks during the 2014 John Eales Medal, Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney, October 23, 2014
McCabe rejected hands-on role with the Brumbies in favour of a role behind the scenes © Getty Images

Former Brumbies and Wallabies centre Pat McCabe, who was forced to retire last year after a series of major neck injuries, has revealed why he opted against a hands-on team role with the Brumbies this season. Speaking on Ruggamatrix, McCabe said it was far wiser that he instead learned a new trade - even if still under the Brumbies umbrella.

"I thought to be involved with the team, and to be that close, would have been too hard," McCabe said. "It may sound strange but working on the commercial side of the game - with sponsorship and marketing - allows me to wean myself off the place a little bit. I had the option to step away and not do anything. But to cut it all of a sudden after it having been such a big part of my life would have been pretty unnatural and really tough to walk away.

"This way it lets me gradually pull away from the place. While I still miss being out there with the boys, it makes it a lot easier not seeing all the training and all of the inner-sanctum stuff."

And he has no interest in coaching.

"Coaching doesn't hold a strong appeal. I now like the idea of knowing where I am going to be for the next couple of years. Coaching, like playing, is such an unpredictable roller-coaster ride. I certainly won't miss that aspect of the game at all. Pouring over footage was never something I ever enjoyed. I did it as just a necessary evil of being a professional player. I am now a very happy spectator."

Rugby and charity combine

The Warringah Rats men's and women's team deserve praise for recently going on a 'boots and books' tour of Sri Lanka, which combined football matches with charity work. The players headed into the thick jungle two hours out of Kandy to visit three schools, where they distributed 850kg of donated goods - including 1500 books, 60 schoolbags, nine laptops and 60 pairs of rugby boots. They also provided $(A)3500 to carry out school repairs and to build fresh water tanks. One of the schools was so isolated that it was the first time many of the children had interacted with white people. At another, the Rats and Ratettes were welcomed by the school's marching band.

Whispers of the Week

- A big Australian rugby name requested a payout due to serious overseas problems, but it didn't happen due to lack of funds.

- Who was the Australian Super Rugby player told off by his coach last weekend for talking too long to the opposition coach? Another official stepped in to defend the player.

- Interesting discussion between two Australian officials this week, with one telling the other he was "wet behind the ears" and "I've done your job so don't ever get ahead of yourself or try it on me". One big happy family.

- And will a former TV sports journo really be named the Wallabies team manager?

Enter your Super Rugby tips at for your chance to win an Auckland Bledisloe Cup travel package. Enter the ESPN Scrum Super Stars tipping league at to claim bragging rights over the ESPN Scrum rugby journalists including Greg Growden.

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