Wales’ Tomas Francis was allowed to play on despite sustaining a head injury in the 20th minute which has been heavily criticised by Progressive Rugby, a lobby group on player protection; “We consider the above incident demonstrates a clear and flagrant breach of HIA protocol”
By PA Media
Last Updated: 27/02/22 1:11pm
The handling of an incident involving Wales’ Tomas Francis in Saturday’s clash
with England has been criticised as a “clear and flagrant breach” of head injury assessment protocol.
Prop Francis sustained a head injury in the 20th minute of the Six Nations contest at Twickenham in which Wales suffered a 23-19 defeat to leave them nine points off the scorching pace set by unbeaten leaders France.
In an open letter to World Rugby, the Welsh Rugby Union and Six Nations Rugby, Progressive Rugby, a lobby group on player protection, said: “Francis attempts to stand and falls back and struggled to get to his feet.
“He is seen holding his head. He is then seen using the post for support. He displays clear signs of ataxia and of being dazed. He is seen by a physio/medic – it is not clear which.
“Francis displayed clear symptoms/indications under the World Rugby Head Injury Assessment protocol that necessitate the immediate and permanent removal from play. No HIA was needed.
“While, after a delay, Francis was removed from the field he was, incorrectly, allowed to undergo an HIA assessment and returned to the field, playing until the 56th minute, at which time he was permanently replaced by Leon Brown.
“Progressive Rugby is concerned that the events demonstrate that individuals who have incurred brain injury have continued to be permitted to play which will place them at likelihood of risk.
“We consider the above incident demonstrates a clear and flagrant breach of HIA protocol that potentially puts both the short-term and long-term health of an elite athlete at risk.”
The letter added: “In addition, we still await the outcome of investigations into the failure to remove (England’s) Jack Nowell from the field during the game against Italy (Feb 13) and behaviour of the England medical team at the culmination of the Italy v England U20 game (Feb 11).
“It is our major concern that the public has observed that in Rugby Union individuals have incurred brain injury and been permitted to continue to play.
“Until satisfactory explanations are provided, we remain unable to accept World Rugby’s assertion that player welfare is the game’s number one priority.”
The PA news agency has contacted World Rugby and the Welsh Rugby Union for comment.