<
>

Saracens' McCall calls for sensible approach to player care

Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Saracens' boss Mark McCall insists there needs to be a sensible approach towards applying care to players after Richard Barrington became the latest player to be dismissed due to new directives.

World Rugby's new directives on the high tackle were once again the main talking point as Saracens saw Barrington sent-off for a high tackle on Exeter lock Geoff Parling.

Parling was tackled high by Brad Barritt's left arm before Barrington shoulder knocked him backwards and referee Ian Tempest stated that although two players were involved, he was looking at the tackle by Barrington, the more serious offence, while Barritt escaped punishment.

"I haven't looked at it really, really closely, so it's probably unwise for me to say anything because there's probably going to be a hearing on Tuesday or Wednesday," said McCall of Barritt's challenge on Parling.

"The players were incredible with how they coped and dealt with all the situations that arose, and by the end it was a game that we maybe could have won as well.

"I felt Geoff was going to the ground and Richard (Barrington) came in as the adjusting defender, and he made contact. Obviously we hope Geoff's okay."

Five players in all suffered concussions in a bruising Allianz Park clash, with Exeter's Ollie Atkins withdrawn for a head knock to add to Parling's problems.

Marcelo Bosch, Nick Tompkins and Barritt all picked up head injuries for Saracens, leaving both coaches frustrated with the changes in refereeing of high tackles.

"Today ended up being a titanic struggle between 15 and 14, but I don't think anyone wants to see those kinds of games," said McCall. "I think we need to be sensible, I'm not saying they weren't today, but we've got to be sensible with how we apply this care for players, and that's all."

Exeter head coach Rob Baxter insisted Parling has no other issues aside from concussion, but admitted the 33-year-old will go through the return-to-play protocols. "Geoff's okay, it was a concussive injury," said Baxter.

"I've just seen him in the changing rooms now and asked him if it feels like anything else, and he's said he just felt like he was knocked out.

"He'll go through the standard protocols, a lot of what happened at Leicester, there was a different issue that stood Geoff down for a while.

"That contact today would have knocked out a heavyweight boxer, let alone Geoff. So we're certainly not worried that there are any other issues other than he's been unlucky enough to take a big blow today.

"In a way you would say Richard Barrington's been a little unfortunate, in that his collision only happens because of the first collision. You can either say yes the new rules are hugely confusing or no they're not confusing at all, that is if you make contact with the head you might have a red card.

"It depends which way you look at it. The way you've got to look at it is that any contact with the head could be a red card, so you do everything you can to avoid that situation. And leading with shoulders in any part of the game now is a big no-no.

"But if in a year's time, with the pressure to push towards low tackles, we have more concussions than we're having currently, then what will come next?"

* PA contributed to this report