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Concussion debate
IRB boss insists concussion a No.1 priority
ESPN Staff
June 17, 2014
Toulouse's Florian Fritz is carted from the field, Toulouse v Racing Metro, Top 14 quarter-finals, Stade Stade Ernest Wallon, Toulouse, May 9, 2014
There was outcry when a clearly disorientated Florian Fritz was led from the field during a Top 14 match in April only to return a few minutes later © Getty Images
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In Focus: Concussion debate

Brett Gosper has said that concussion is one of the main priorities for the IRB and that "it is important that everyone in rugby recognises the symptoms of concussion and removes from playing or training any player with clear or suspected symptoms".

Gosper, who is the IRB's chief executive, said that player welfare was the board's "No.1 priority" and that "without healthy players who are confident they are playing a safe sport, rugby would not experience the success and global growth that it currently enjoys".

Writing in the New Zealand Herald, Gosper said the IRB welcomed the "significant role that the media is playing in raising awareness of concussion and the need for all involved in rugby to take this important area seriously. However, we also would like to provide reassurance that concussion is at the top of our player welfare agenda.

"While there are risks associated with any sport - and rugby is no different - we want to reassure players, parents and fans that we are working hard with our national unions, including the New Zealand Rugby Union, to educate players at all levels of the game regarding the symptoms and dangers of concussion."

While recent instances of concussed players being allowed to continue have been given much attention - Florian Fritz the worst example during a Top 14 match - Gosper said that education of everyone involved in the game was vital.

"If any player demonstrates any signs or reports any symptoms of possible concussion, that player must be removed from the game and must not return to play. That is non-negotiable and we are making good progress in this from Eden Park right down to school playing fields.

 
Concussion is a brain injury. It is not to be taken lightly
 

"There is no such state as "a little concussed" and rugby therefore exercises caution."

He said that new protocols had helped and that before their introduction 56% of players with confirmed concussion played. Since the introduction of temporary substitution and standardised assessments, this figure has reduced to 13% and the goal of the IRB was to reduce it to zero.

"Players, coaches and parents at all levels must understand the dangers of concussion and the need to put the welfare of the player at the heart of all they do. Concussion is a brain injury. It is not to be taken lightly."

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