While much of the attention from Clermont Auvergne’s Champion Cup victory over Northampton rightly focused on Camille Lopez’s horrific ankle injury, there has been just as much talk over the apparent concussion, and return to play of scrum-half Morgan Parra.
Parra was injured mid-way through the first half after copping an accidental knee to the head as he tried to tackle Saints lock Courtney Lawes.
Referee Ben Whitehouse signalled for the medics to attend to Parra who the Welshman believed to be knocked out cold. Instead, Parra came round quickly and, after undergoing an HIA, was cleared to return to action.
Confusion reigned as Whitehouse was willing to let Parra back on to the field. Despite his previous assertion that the scrum-half had been “unconscious”, he did not question the decision to allow Parra to return.
World Rugby protocol states that if a concussion is identified or suspected, then the player in question must be removed from the pitch permanently. If it is unclear whether a concussion has been sustained, then an HIA is required.
If following a pitch-side HIA, the player is suspected to have suffered a concussion, the player is permanently removed from the game.
A post-match review of Parra’s injury revealed that the Clermont medical staff were indeed correct to send their player back onto the field.
An EPC Rugby statement read: “An independent review has found that the ASM Clermont Auvergne scrum half, Morgan Parra, was correctly permitted to return to the field of play after an initial Head Injury Assessment (HIA) revealed no loss of consciousness on the part of the player during his club’s Champions Cup, Round 2 match against Northampton Saints on Saturday, 21 October.
“Parra passed the first stage of the HIA after leaving the field of play in the 27th minute of the match at Stade Marcel-Michelin. As the criteria for a permanent removal of the player were not satisfied, the Clermont medical staff then decided that was he was fit to return.”
As for Whitehouse’s concerns of Parra being knocked out, the statement added: “While an audible comment from match referee, Ben Whitehouse, at the time of the event may have led to some confusion, Alligin Performance commended the official as he clearly stopped the match out of concern for the player’s welfare.”