A meeting will be held on Friday between club officials and an independent medical expert as the investigation continues into how North was allowed to return to the field following a heavy knock in last Saturday’s Premiership game at Leicester.
Saints have declined to make any further comment since issuing a statement claiming their medical staff were unaware North had lost consciousness because the correct footage was not available on their monitors. This stance has been questioned by the host broadcaster, BT Sport, which has also pointed out the relevant images were repeatedly shown on other screens at Franklin’s Gardens.
The Wales winger landed heavily on his neck following a first half collision with Leicester’s Adam Thompstone and, after leaving the field for a head injury assessment, was permitted to return to the field. Northampton issued a statement on Tuesday stating “if evidence suggesting a loss of consciousness had been available to the medical team at the time of assessment, George would not have been allowed to return to the field of play”.
Premiership Rugby guidelines, strongly supported by both World Rugby and the Rugby Football Union, state that any player even suspected of losing consciousness should be immediately removed. There is no precedent in Premiership Rugby for a club being punished for breaching the guidelines but if there is found to be a case to answer, Northampton could face a charge of bringing the game into disrepute and a fine.
A concussion-management review-group was set up earlier this week comprising the RFU’s director of professional rugby, Nigel Melville, Premiership Rugby’s rugby director Phil Winstanley and an independent chairman, Dr Julian Morris. Also monitoring the situation are the Professional Game Board (PGB), now headed by Judge Jeff Blackett. The PGB, comprising representatives of the RFU, Premiership Rugby and the individual clubs, was formed in 2008 to monitor and manage all issues relating to English professional rugby, including player welfare.
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