SANZAAR says Sonny Bill Williams should have been sidelined for the remainder of Bledisloe one Saturday after he suffered concussion in the opening minutes, but have cleared the All Blacks of wrongdoing.
Somehow the All Blacks doctors, the appointed Head Injury Assessment specialist, the match day doctor and referees all missed Williams stumbling around after attempting to tackle Michael Hooper and colliding with teammate Joe Moody.
An investigation by SANZAAR found that the All Blacks doctors had not deliberately kept Williams on the field, but rather that it was not picked up by any of the relevant medical specialists trained to spot such incidents during a game.
The All Blacks said Williams showed no concussive symptoms post-match and have selected him to start again this Saturday against the Wallabies in Dunedin, and SANZAAR found Williams suffered “Ataxia”, or unsteadiness, but is satisfied the centre has followed World Rugby’s head injury protocols this week.
A release of SANZAAR’s findings into the Williams incident said:
“The incident was not identified during the game via the appointed HIA specialist, the match day doctor, the team doctors or the match officials
“The available post-game video confirms ataxia, which would trigger immediate and permanent removal under World Rugby protocols
“While no process is entirely failsafe, the review panel determined that the missed HIA incident should have been identified during the match.
“Following the investigation, and to ensure player welfare standards and HIA protocols are tightened, SANZAAR has immediately initiated the roll out of additional educational modules for all match day medical staff, team management and match officials. The intent is to ensure best practice methods are entrenched through refreshing the knowledge of medical personnel and expanding the knowledge to match officials and team management in recognising the symptoms with Ataxia (unsteadiness) and suspected loss of consciousness.”
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said: “This is an unfortunate set of circumstances given the acute focus and attention we are all applying to player safety and in particular the HIA protocols. NZ Rugby has been proactive in its management of Sonny Bill Williams and we have full confidence in its processes to manage his return to play — as NZR has illustrated with other players such as Dane Coles and Ben Smith this year already.
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“As a consequence, and even though there was no deliberate failure apparent, SANZAAR has taken the opportunity to strongly reinforce World Rugby HIA protocols including video analysis during the game, to all teams, match day medical staff and match officials participating in The Rugby Championship.
“Additionally, New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that Sonny Bill Williams is being managed in line with World Rugby HIA protocols, including HIA 3 and computer neuro-cognitive assessment, and will progress to a graduated return to play if asymptomatic.”
Source: sports dailytelegraph