18 Jul 2013

IRB to review sideline concussion test

11:01 am on 18 July 2013

The International Rugby Board is to review its controversial in-match test for concussion.

The Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment (PSCA), which has been in place for a year, came to prominence during the British and Irish Lions' 41-16 series-clinching win over Australia in Sydney earlier this month, AFP reports.

Barely five minutes into the match, Wallabies flanker George Smith was involved in a head-to-head collision with Lions hooker Richard Hibbard which left the Australian unsteady on his feet, and in the eyes of many observers he was clearly concussed.

Yet Smith was allowed to return just over five minutes later, a move that caused alarm within both rugby and medical circles, after passing the PSCA.

"It obviously affected me. You saw me snake dancing off the field. I passed the (concussion) tests that were required within those five minutes and I got out there," Smith said afterwards.

Former Wallabies forward Peter FitzSimons, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, said Smith's return was a "disgrace" and asked: "In what other field of employment would an employee who had just suffered major brain trauma be allowed/encouraged to get back to it five minutes later?"

However, the IRB, in a statement issued from its Dublin headquarters, insisted the test had led to a rise, not a reduction, in players being taken off as a result of concussion.

The review, which will be overseen by the PSCA working group, is designed to assess the PSCA "functionality and compliance" in a bid to "ensure clear and consistent management of suspected concussion cases and further enhance best-practice delivery", the IRB said.

IRB chief medical officer Martin Raftery insisted the PSCA was a guide and should not be the sole determining factor in whether a player be stopped from continuing to take part in a match.