Rugby cheers 'must turn to jeers on concussion'
RUGBY players who return to the pitch after a serious head injury should be booed rather than cheered, the Irish Rugby Football Union's (IRFU) first-aid expert has warned.
Shane Mooney said concussion in rugby was one of the most complex injuries to diagnose and a "serious change of attitude" was needed so that players leave the pitch after receiving any type of head injury.
Mr Mooney, who is the IRFU's first-aid and injury prevention co-ordinator, said the long-standing culture was to cheer someone to get back on the field after injury.
"There's a huge culture change required – and we need to get to a stage where a person who goes back on to a pitch with an obvious head injury is booed rather cheered,'' he told an international conference for emergency medical services (EMS) in Killarney, Co Kerry.
He also called for those in charge of teams to be educated about the signs and symptoms of concussion.
Around 160,000 people play rugby in Ireland, including 120,000 underage players.
Mr Mooney said there was no medical evidence that helmets or scrum caps helped prevent concussion.
Under IRFU rules, a player suspected of having suffered concussion is required to be taken off and cannot return until they have been medically assessed.
If they are concussed they will not be allowed play again for 21 days in the case of an adult and for 23 days for younger players.