Quite by chance, we're quoting former Wallaby and now columnist, author and commenter Peter FitzSimons again. He's written in Stuff about the IRB's new sideline concussion tests, and how they did NOT work last weekend. The whole article is worth a read, but here's an excerpt:
Four minutes and 39 seconds into the third Test against the Lions on Saturday, 32-year-old Wallabies breakaway George Smith, playing his first Test in four years, had a fearful head clash with the Lions hooker and fell to the ground, knocked senseless.
We groaned. Such an important player, on such a crucial occasion, and he was now clearly out of the match - something confirmed as he had to be helped to his feet and assisted from the field by two men, even as both his left leg and left arm were clearly in spasm.
But wait! Somehow, just over five minutes later, he runs back out onto the field, and takes his place once more in the Wallabies?
A miracle? No, a disgrace.
For let us be clear: Smith not only had suffered concussion, but very bad concussion.
In his own words, ''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.''
What concussion tests? Specifically, it is a newly instituted one from the IRB, called pitch side concussion assessment or PSCA - or the five-minute rule.
The essential idea of it is to give the player a series of tests and ask questions to separate those who are genuinely concussed from those who have just taken a big body hit and will be right once they have gathered themselves.
But if Smith was not suffering concussion on Saturday night, what the hell was it - freaking FLU!??!
The case of George Smith on Saturday night has really brought this issue into the spotlight. Smith was clearly unconscious after a clash of heads. After a few moments of medical attention on the field, he was assisted to the sideline, barely conscious. His legs were like jelly, and it was only the trainers either side of him that stopped him from collapsing back to the Sydney turf.
Yet as FitzSimons mentions, George Smith was back on the field in a matter of minutes, where he was frankly ineffective. He was slow to the breakdown, and right off the pace in terms of his general play.
Australia had no excuse for returning Smith to the field. They had already stacked the reserves bench with six forwards and only two backs. And yet after supposedly passing a "concussion test", Smith was sent back into the fray.
The brain is a very delicate instrument, and we would far rather that a conservative and cautious approach be taken when a player has clearly suffered a significant head knock. It is time for the IRB to re-examine its sideline concussion testing regime so that a situation such as happened on Saturday night does not happen again, where a player who had clearly been knocked unconscious was allowed to play on in what was a very physical match.