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Player welfare demands the IRB reassesses its policy on concussion

The current medical protocols put in place by the International Rugby Board (IRB) generally, and at individual tournaments such as the Six Nations, have received trenchant criticism from experts such as Dr Barry O’Driscoll. Dr O’Driscoll, who once sat on the IRB’s medical committee, claims that current IRB concussion protocols are inadequate and endangering player welfare. Why, he argues, is the sport permitting players “with brain damage to be put back on the rugby field?”

At the first ever brain injury and European sport conference held in Dublin on 13 December last, the treatment of Dr O’Driscoll’s nephew, Brian, during the November international against the All-Blacks, was used as an example of the inadequacies of current IRB policy. O’Driscoll was taken from the field with suspected concussion but apparently passed the requisite concussion protocol.

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