Sunday 20 January 2019

'It was pretty disgraceful' - Brian O'Driscoll weighs in on French HIA controversy as Six Nations investigate

Brian O'Driscoll (inset) was not happy that Antoine Dupont underwent a HIA when he clearly suffered a knee injury
Brian O'Driscoll (inset) was not happy that Antoine Dupont underwent a HIA when he clearly suffered a knee injury

The Six Nations are investigating the French use of the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) during their defeat to Ireland on Saturday.

Out-half Matthieu Jalibert and replacement scrum-half Antoine Dupont were both taken off after suffering knee injuries, but their replacements were registered as HIAs which provoked controversy with Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell both questioning the call.

In the case of Dupont, the decision to use a HIA allowed France to re-introduce No. 9 Maxime Machenaud. Had Dupont come off with a non-head or blood injury, the Racing 92 player would not have been allowed back on.

However, Machenaud was not allowed take the kick that Anthony Belleau pulled wide because he had come on as a HIA replacement under the laws.

France claimed both HIAs were ordered by the independent match-day doctor.

Under their existing HIA protocols, Six Nations review each incident that requires an assessment and they will await the findings of that review before proceeding.

Speaking on Off The Ball today, O'Driscoll reiterated his belief that the rules had been manipulated.

“In real time, you saw [Dupont’s] knee buckling. He held his head because he was in pain. Therefore, you have to go back to look at the video analysis of whether it’s a HIA or not – there’s no impact whatsoever to the head,” O’Driscoll said.

"Conor Murray tackles Dupont, there is not impact of the head on the ground and you see the anguish is to do with his knee injury.

“When you know it’s a serious knee injury, you’re going to grimace. Grabbing your head is an immediate reaction to the disappointment and disillusionment of having to go off.”

“I thought it was pretty disgraceful. I get that it's not Nigel's issue because he has to put the onus on the French doctor and for him to say ‘Oh yeah, that’s a HIA'. He was given a few chances by Nigel as well. He kept asking because he questioned it himself. Johnny Sexton came in and questioned it also and rightly so. He could clearly see that Machenaud shouldn't be allowed come back on the park.

"There's something not right there. It’s not the first time it’s happened – we had a very similar scenario against Wales in the Six Nations last year with scrummaging. World Rugby, in my opinion, need to have a serious look at this one.

"I get that we have to err on the side of caution but that is clearly a manipulation of the rules."

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