Wednesday 26 September 2018

Review panel says 'no evidence' anyone from French team tried to get 'unfair advantage' with HIAs vs Ireland

3 February 2018; Matthieu Jalibert of France receives medical treatment before leaving the pitch during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France in Paris, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
3 February 2018; Matthieu Jalibert of France receives medical treatment before leaving the pitch during the NatWest Six Nations Rugby Championship match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France in Paris, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The HIA Review Panel have ruled that although two French players who were taken for head injury assessments against Ireland were not concussed, there is 'no evidence of anyone within the FFR seeking to gain a competitive advantage'.

Out-half Matthieu Jalibert was removed after 30 minutes, while scrum-half Antoine Dupont departed similarly four minutes from time, and although they received HIAs, it subsequently emerged that they had actually suffered knee injuries.

Johnny Sexton queried the Dupont HIA with referee Nigel Owens, as the decision meant that France could bring back on scrum-half Maxime Machenaud for the crucial closing stages.

The Six Nations subsequently announced that a HIA Review Panel would investigate the incidents, and tonight they have returned their findings.

The Six Nations also said that they 'will not be taking any disciplinary action against any of the parties involved in the two incidents'.

With respect to Jalibert, the panel found:

"The player had not suffered a concussion during the relevant incident and therefore could (if not for an injury that he had sustained to his knee) have returned to the pitch after the HIA;

"The decision to call for an HIA was not made by anyone who was formally connected with the French team, rather it was made by the match day doctor, supported by the video doctor, and was based on the player having been on the ground (motionless) for a period of time; and

"While there was some debate about whether or not it had been appropriate for the match day doctor to call for an HIA in the circumstances, there was no evidence of anyone within the FFR seeking to gain a competitive advantage.

The panel ruled similarly in the Dupont case:

"The player had not suffered a concussion during the relevant incident and therefore could (if not for an injury that he had sustained to his knee and the match having come to an end) have returned to the pitch after the HIA;

"The decision to call for an HIA was not made by anyone who was formally connected with the French team, rather it was made by the match day doctor, supported by the video doctor, and was based on the match officials' earlier indication that an HIA was required;

"Although the match day doctor and the video doctor should not have simply accepted the match officials' indication that an HIA was required, it was understandable that they called for an HIA in those circumstances; and

"Again, there was no evidence of anyone within the FFR seeking to gain a competitive advantage."

The panel also recommended that 'certain issues be clarified in the future to try to avoid similar cases arising'.

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