Tuesday Feb 6, 2018

Questionable France HIA tactics investigation moves to next stage of review process

Questionable France HIA tactics investigation moves to next stage of review process
12
Comments

One of the biggest talking points to emerge from Ireland’s thrilling, extra-time victory on Saturday has been France’s questionable use of HIA tactics. The confusion around what happened has gone through one review already, and now reaches the second stage.

Flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert suffered a knee injury in a first-half collision with Bundee Aki. Nonetheless, a Head Injury Assessment was ordered. Later on, replacement half back Antoine Dupont went down in the 76th minute with what was also clearly a knee injury.

Surprisingly, yet another HIA was ordered.

Referee Nigel Owens had no choice but to defer to the official match doctor.

Of the two, Dupont’s was obviously the more significant as it allowed France to bring scrum half Maxime Machenaud back into the game, instead of another player. Machenaud, however, was never asked to kick again. And as we know, Ireland won the match in dramatic fashion.

As many have pointed out, questionable Head Injury Assessments have been used before by the French, in particular against Wales during last year’s competition.

Jalibert and Dupont were indeed both injured and Dupont will miss the remainder of the tournament, while Jalibert will be out for at least a month with a partially torn ligament.

The latest statement from Six Nations Rugby reads:

“Following the NatWest 6 Nations match between France and Ireland on Saturday, the independent Head Injury Assessment (HIA) Review Processor appointed by Six Nations, Alligin (UK) Limited, carried out its review of various incidents from the match.

“That initial review has now been concluded and, in light of the views expressed by the Review Processor, Six Nations Rugby has referred two such incidents to the HIA Review Panel, ie the second stage of World Rugby’s HIA review process.

“The HIA Review Panel, which is chaired by Roger Morris (Wales), will consider the incidents and report to Six Nations. It can make recommendations (among other things) as to further education and training that is required, and/or whether disciplinary action should be taken by Six Nations.

“It is anticipated that, due to the need to consider various materials and contact a number of individuals, the HIA Review Panel is unlikely to finalise its report for a number of days. No further comments will be made until the conclusion of the review process.”

For his part, French head coach Jacques Brunel stated that France had no control over what the doctor decided to do. “They were collisions, but the head injury protocol was decided by the independent doctor. It wasn’t our decision.”

Brian O’Driscoll is among those who aren’t buying it.

Here he is on Off The Ball explaining his feelings.

Credit: Off The Ball/Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

12 Comments

  •  vladimir
    vladimir

    Because World Rugby is afraid players suing them because of brain damages, like in the NFL, but not for a broken limb.

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    I don't advocate for an "at will" policy. I just don't see the point treating differently a head or knee injury. I hope no one would go as far as to deliberately hurt a player in order to get a "free sub". And if they do, they can do it head or knee just the same. Two solutions are OK for me: either you change the law to allow a player to come back if the sub hurts himself even if its not an HIA, or you forbid it in both cases.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I suppose the risk of that 'tactic' is the game turns more into NFL, where you have specific teams for specific jobs... So you have a player who can't do anything but kick, he can place kick 80m and drop kick 60m, so you sub him on then off at a moment's notice... I know rugby is probably far too complicated to do something like that, but there is a chance! Remember the 'blood gate' scandal...? Overall this entire thing to me seems out of the French hands, someone else (Owens, doc) made a shit call and the French said "ok, if you insist" and took full advantage.. I don't see an issue purely because no one else would do different, it's wrong overall, but it is what it is..

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    Idk but I' ve read in french newspapers that the alternative was Benjamin Fall (winger/fullback) instead of Machenaud... So I guess they had not used all their subs. Still, it doesn't make sense that you can't have a player coming back on the field if his sub hurts himself, whatever the injury.

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    *but again, no other nation would offer not to go down that route, so can't blame the French for that either...

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    Can anyone clarify, did the French use all their subs already? Was this a case of bringing on a player more suited to the position or bringing on a player full stop? If they had used all their subs and they took advantage of the call (which I don't believe they influenced) then I think there is a flaw in the law if they would have been forced to play with 14 men had there not been an HIA... I also don't blame them for 'honourably' declaring it wasn't an HIA, no other nation would have done. IF they brought on a player more suited to the position due to the HIA call then again, I say maybe a flaw in the laws, perhaps either bring on an actual substitute

    Reply

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  • Exactly my thought, when watching the game I saw Owens call a concussion protocole before even being close to the medical staff and Dupont. He made his call. Period. Funny how the French are depicted as cheaters, but when another Nation does it, it's just "clever use of the rule". We lost a scrum half and a fly half which is terrible news already, so just stop complaining.

    Reply
  •  felipeg
    felipeg

    I m pretty sure it wasn't a "tactic". Maybe the french benefited from a wrong call by the ref and doctors. So what? Come on, who would have said "No, its only the knee, there is no need for an HIA. I refuse the HIA". I dare say: no one. Either irish, welsh, or french. Dear BOD himself would have never refused this HIA if in Brunel's shoes. The real issue is that a coach should not have to choose between safety and looking to have cheated. That's the real disgrace. If we want safety to be the top priority, this stupid "no replacement unless HIA" rule must be dropped. It creates interferences between strategic game issues and safety issues. It must go.

    Reply
  •  pdg
    pdg

    Straightforward manipulation of the Laws to continue with a full compliment of players... . . . .OTHER WISE KNOWN AS CHEATING

    Reply
  •  drg
    drg

    I think most of the English commentators said a similar thing regarding doctor finding knee - head connection... Just to add, my view of the Wales game last year was the that sub was ridiculous however I couldn't believe there wasn't about a million penalty tries.... I think since that incident there was talk saying "well the welsh didn't commit the same offences in succession etc"... Personally Barnes should have drawn a line under it and said "this is ridiculous, any more penalties and it's a penalty try" ...and to clarify overall either the doc was biased.. or it was miscommunication...either way what do people want? This is player safety and over precautions being shown in its worst light... Could only be worse had it happened in a stoppage with seconds to go and the French player comes on and kicks a winning penalty to put a behind France in the lead to win..(different scenario here I know)..

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    Here is a footage of the incident in french commentary. Pundits also thought it was a hia before understanding it was the knee. At the end of the video, they even joke about "this magic medic who find head commotions on the knee" to finally conclude "but, nowadays, nobody wants to take risks" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCWJZqtRCps

    Reply
  •  colombes
    colombes

    I guess everyone will have an opinion on these incidents, whether you are irish, welsh or french. And it seems too soon to have a clear view of the reality of the events. My view: Firstly, these incidents have nothing to do with the match vs Wales. During these last 20 absurd minutes, there were a forest of incidents: Barnes failing to give a penalty try, Slimani replacing a "concussed" Atonio, Samson Lee shambolic replacement, biting allegations, etc... Whatever, i'm now almost sure the french staff played a cheeky card vs a cheeky welsh staff to put off an exhausted Atonio. No proof, took your blame. On Jalibert case, the player injured his knee but was also dazed by the shock with Aki, so i can guess the HIA was given by precaution. And it had nothing to do with sub tactic as Belleau wasn't already used. Move on. Dupont case is more tricky. If you look at these bizarre minutes, Owens and his assistant firstly thought it was a head shock... before the french medics said him it was a knee injury. It's quite possible to imagine the french WR medic (the WR medic is always from the host nationality) stayed on his and owens first impression, asking for a HIA check. I'm pretty sure irish fans prefer the conspiracy theory of a diabolic Laporte texting to the WR doctor "do the hia, sacrebleu!" and then Dupont milking a head injury when he was more worried by a possible ACL... but it seems a bit absurd. If conspiracy proven, it should be severely sanctioned as France was already under the radar... But like stated by DrG, i'm pretty sure rugby would win time by allowing the ref a direct contact with the WR medic OR join this medic to the TMO team for HIA checks.

    Reply

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