The Concussion Debate
Southern hemisphere beefs up head injury tests
June 27, 2014
Kieran Read struggled to recover from double concussions sustained earlier this year © Getty Images
The southern hemisphere's elite competitions will be played under stricter concussion guidelines amid concerns for player welfare.
Governing body SANZAR, which runs Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, has introduced stricter tests for head injuries sustained while playing in the competitions, in line with new guidance from the IRB.
The enhanced Head Injury Assessment (HIA) replaces the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment as a tougher pitch-side evaluation of whether or not a player can return to action immediately after sustaining a head injury.
"From the moment the IRB announced the introduction of the HIA we made it a priority to take steps that would lead to the enhanced protocol being introduced to SANZAR competitions as soon as possible," SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters said.
"Player welfare is a primary concern for our sport and we are therefore supportive of the IRB's introduction of the HIA which will be in effect at Super Rugby from the resumption of the competition this weekend following the June Test window."
Two components of the pitch-side checks have been improved, with injured players going through tougher memory and balance tests.
Concussion is a hot topic in both hemispheres after high-profile injuries to players such as Florian Fritz and Kieran Read. Toulouse centre Fritz was forced to return to action just minutes after sustaining a bloody head injury in May, while the Crusaders' Read has only just recovered from double concussions sustained in March and April.
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