Thursday 22 August 2019

Top Irish rugby medic tells George North to consider quitting and slams the use of HIAs

George North lying motionless after the incident
George North lying motionless after the incident
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Dr Barry O'Driscoll has told Wales star George North to seriously consider quitting the game after suffering yet another head injury.

The winger suffered his fifth concussion in two seasons in the recent Aviva Premiership game between the Northampton Saints and the Leicester Tigers.

He underwent a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) and eight minutes later, he controversially came back on.

North was subsequently stood down by his club until he was assessed by a top brain specialist and missed the defeat to Leinster in the Champions Cup last weekend.

Dr O'Driscoll, uncle of Ireland rugby legend Brian, has urged the 24-year-old to seriously consider his future.

“George does have to make that decision,’’ O’Driscoll, a member of World Rugby’s medical committee for 15 years, told The Rugby Paper.

“If he was playing the sport just for fun, that would be it.

 “Is George getting concussed more easily now? He seemed to lose consciousness remarkably quickly this last time.

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“Anyone who has had three concussions should consider retiring.   George is a great, great talent but he has to face the facts.   The pressures on the lad are huge because this is his career.

“All I can say to him is: ‘Take an appreciable break from the game. Listen to the experts.   Consider the medium and long-term consequences.’

“You have to respect that it’s his decision, his life.  What has happened to George and the way rugby has responded has annoyed me.This is the second time in his case where the game has got it all wrong.’’

O'Driscoll was highly critical of the HIA which allowed North to return to the field.

“George passed a test which is meaningless,’’ he said.  “It means brain-damaged players are put back on the field time after time.   If you suspect a player of being concussed, you should not have to bother with this test.

“I resigned over this issue and nothing has happened since to make me change my mind."

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