Top 14: Concussions down sharply

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"It's a significant drop." The chairman of the National Rugby League (NRL) Medical Committee, Dr. Bernard Dusfour, has delivered an encouraging report in one area – concussions – where rugby has in recent years been used to announcing sad news. .

After screening 186 games in the 2018-2019 season, the NRL found that the number of concussions was 69 versus 91 in the previous fiscal year. The figure reached even 103 in 2016-2017, considered a black year. We are talking here about concussions diagnosed 48 hours after the encounter (HIA 3, or concussion protocol, read below) by a neurologist.

The consolidated figures are taken from the research work of Professor Philippe Decq, a neurosurgeon at Beaujon Hospital (AP-HP) who has been working for a long time with the NRL. The recurrence of concussions can lead players to prematurely retire like the South African Pat Lambie who left the Racing 92. Changes in the plating rules, to lower the line, have also been launched to limit the neurological consequences.

New: an independent doctor at the edge of the field

How to explain this "significant decline"? According to Dr. Dusfour, "the greatest severity of the referees" who no longer hesitate to brand a red card in the event of a wrongful act is one of the tracks. Video assistance is another. Until last year, the burden of replaying the images during the match lay with the doctor of both teams. Change this year with the appearance on the edge of the field of a doctor "independent" of the two clubs. It is now he who can ask a player to leave after a suspicion of concussion on the faith of the images thanks to the six camera axes at his disposal. With the system developed by the French company Vogo, it can review the litigation and engage the protocol in case of shock suspicious.

Finally last possible explanation to the decline in concussions, the introduction of a new rule allowing clubs to make 12 replacements total in Top 14 as in Pro D2. This provision was unanimously renewed for the new season "when the clubs were opposed to it at the beginning," according to Dr. Dusfour.

The doctor is finally satisfied with another drop, that of the players remained in the field despite the application of the concussion protocol and on which it was finally detected 48 hours later, the symptoms of a concussion. This figure was 14 in 2018-19 compared to 24 in 2017-2018. "The contacts will always exist in rugby, admits the doctor. What is important is to avoid the over-accident, that is to say the second concussion. "

Sam Warburton: "The French do not take the concussion seriously", criticizes the former Welsh captain

These announcements come after the stance of former Wales captain Sam Warburton. In an interview with the BBC's Scrum V Rugby podcast, the BBC said: "France does not treat concussions seriously and there have been deaths in the last 12 months. I'm not sure that ( Editor's note: the release of his compatriot Patchell in a warm-up match against Ireland after a concussion ) occurs in France. It should be noted that the former captain had to end his career at age 29 due to repeated injuries. "Players and coaches tell me they (the French) do not take the concussion seriously, "concluded Warburton.

Statements that make Bernard Dusfour jump. "These are purely gratuitous statements from someone who has never played in France and therefore does not know the procedures. It makes a mistake especially as the English championship has just put in place the French device on concussions. "

The Welsh refers to the deaths of four players in France last year. The summer of 2018, French rugby had sunk into the drama with the death of the young player Aurillac Louis Fajfrowski (21 years) from a plating. At the end of the year, a Stade Espoir French player, 18-year-old Nicolas Chauvin, also died after a tackle. Two other amateur players, Adrien Descrulhes (17) and Nathan Soyeux (23), have also disappeared.

What is the concussion protocol?

The Concussion Protocol – HIA in English for Head Injury Assessment – responds to a series of specific exams. In case of suspicion after a shock, on the strength of a statement at the edge of the field or eloquent images, the player returns to the locker room for 10 minutes.

If he passes the HIA 1 test (questions and coordination exercises) successfully, he finds his partners. Otherwise, he definitely leaves his colleagues. A second step (HIA 2) occurs within three hours after the end of the match or at least before leaving the stadium.

It concerns players who have gone out like those who have returned to the field. Finally, a final examination (HIA 3) is performed 48 hours later with a doctor referring concussion.

A protocol filmed from the inside

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