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As a Northampton Saints season ticket holder and life long fan, I was shocked to see George North be knocked out when struck by the foot of another player when playing against Wasps on 27 March 2015. This came off the back of him appearing to be knocked out on 2 separate occasions in one match when playing for Wales in the 6 Nations and his 4th episode of concussion in 5 months.
Watching the match live and the numerous reruns since, it was certainly worrying to watch and yet another stark reminder of the potential dangers of the sport if not policed properly. Fortunately the Northampton Saints appear to have followed medical advice to the letter and have released a statement confirming that George will not play for the team or undertake any on-field training with them for at least the next month pending further medical advice. With George’s history over the past few months, they must be seen to be taking no chances whatsoever when it comes to his health. Only in 2013, Andy Hazell of Gloucester Rugby Club retired after struggling to cope with the after effects of a massive blow to the head during a match. He is reported to have experienced dizziness and mood swings which did not improve over time.
You need not look too far to find other tragic stories where rugby players at a level far below that of premiership rugby have been catastrophically injured, if not killed, due to brain injuries sustained during a match. Having such high profile players affected by these injuries will of course increase awareness, particularly when considered in light of the statistics which show concussion is the most common match injury in rugby and has been for the last 3 years. Therefore clubs at all levels need to be seen to be taking the appropriate steps which, with any form of concussive injury, must only be to exercise extreme caution at all times.
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