George North’s rugby future appeared to have taken another blow this weekend as he landed heavily after a challenge for a high ball against Leicester Tigers. It is yet another in a worrying string of knocks that the young Northampton Saints winger has suffered.
North went up for a bouncing ball as Adam Thomstone unfortunately caught him in the air. The 24-year-old came down with a thud, appearing to knock himself out in the process.
The landing was awkward and by his reaction, it appeared as though his head had knocked the turf and he was out cold. However, the medical staff followed protocol and North returned to play.
Northampton Saints have issued a statement since the incident at Welford Road. They said that following the treatment and medical assessment of North, he was passed fit to return to play.
“George was communicating immediately with attending medics and complaining of neck pain. Significant neck injury was excluded on the field but on review of video footage pitch side, the team followed World Rugby protocols and used a Head Injury Assessment given the potential mechanism for head injury.
“Northampton Saints places the highest importance on player care and their safety is the club’s primary concern.”
North tweeted “I can’t help but feel I won’t be looking left or right for a few days” and explained that he was mainly concerned about his neck when it happened.
Thanks for all the messages. I am ok. I landed on my neck and was worried about it. Thanks to the medics for checking me out properly. 1/2
— George North (@George_North) December 3, 2016
Fans and pundits have shown concern for his wellbeing, as another serious knock may well mean the end of his career, due to his well documented concussion history.
He suffered four head knocks in five months between November 2014 and March 2015, including two in one match. He reportedly had some clear side affects from them and it’s been said that another serious blow could leave lasting damage.
The story of former England winger Shontayne Hape comes to mind. Hape was knocked out so many times that even the slightest bit of contact at training would spark him out.
He covered it up at the time but later revealed that he has suffered from severe head pain and his life was turned upside down as a result.
Another player went on record as saying that he himself, and others he witnessed, would find a way to ‘cheat’ concussion tests so that they would not put their careers in jeopardy by missing matches.
A Premiership Rugby spokesman has said that they will investigate this latest incident.
“Every head injury incident that occurs in Aviva Premiership rugby is assessed by an independent reviewer as part of our procedure to manage concussion. This is a world-leading system of assessment to ensure we take a comprehensive look at every incident which involves a potential head injury. Player welfare is our No 1 priority.”