The fallout from Wales’ 21-16 Six Nations defeat to England could be about to descend into a medical row after George North was allowed to remain on the pitch until the full-time whistle despite suffering two nasty blows to the head.
The towering wing was caught early in the first half with an accidental boot to the head as Dave Attwood went to kick the loose ball. North was given immediate treatment on the pitch before being temporarily replaced by Liam Williams to undergo a mandatory concussion check, yet he was deemed in a good enough condition to return to the field of play.
However, as England pressed for victory in the closing stages, North suffered a second impact which looked far worse after accidentally clashing heads with his team-mate Richard Hibbard when the pair attempted to stop Mike Brown close to the line.
North collapsed to the ground and appeared to have been knocked out from the collision, yet not only did he see out the final few minutes, he didn’t even undergo a second test to see if he had indeed suffered a concussion.
Here are the incidents:
After the match, Wales head coach Warren Gatland claimed he did not see the second impact despite replays being shown of the sickening collision on TV, and confirmed that North passed all the protocols to return to the game following the kick from Attwood.
“[I] Didn't see [the] second-one but George North passed all protocols first time,” Gatland said after the match. “We'll have to see how he is over next few days.”
However, former players of the game quickly took to Twitter to express their disgust at North’s allowance to continue, with former England captains Lewis Moody and Will Carling among those to condemn the Welsh medics’ decision.
“Why was George North not taken off - terrible decision by the medics. Out cold,” Moody posted. He later added: “Great win for a injury ravaged young england. Jonathan Joseph, George Ford were sublime. Disappointed with medics allowing North to continue.”
Carling said during the game: 'I really don't think George North should still be on the pitch. He looks very dazed.”
BBC commentator Brian Moore also expressed his belief that North had been hurt in the two collisions, as he remarked: “I think he [North] is definitely concussed. I am surprised he has been kept on the field.”
Measures to prevent players suffering from the effects of concussion carrying on in the game have been put in place, with the mandatory concussion test coming in a few years ago to try and eliminate injured players from doing further damage.
However, it appears to still be a problem that the game is yet to stamp out, and former Scotland international Rory Lamont showed his frustration with the continuation of players being deemed fit to play when their condition suggests otherwise.
Lamont posted: “George North knocked out twice in one game and still on the pitch. How is this still happening?”