In 1823, William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball in his arms and ran with it. And for the next 156 years forwards have been trying to work out why. - Tasker Watkins VC, LJ.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

RWC Final - Morgan Parra Part II

So, first off, congratulations to New Zealand. The hoodoo is dead.

Secondly, congratulations to France on playing a great game.

Thirdly, congratulations to François Trinh-Duc who came on for Morgan Parra and played an absolute stormer of a game.

The only problem being, of course, that he came on for him twice. Which should never, ever have happened.

Parra got concussed, clearly and visibly, by Richie McCaw's knee (a complete accident, by the way). He was down for an age (while play, dangerously, was continuing around him). He was wobbly-legged and stumbled getting up.

Now, let's remember at this point what the IRB Concussion Regulations say about when you have a suspected concussion:

If a Player shows any of the signs described in the Table (as a result of a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with a force being transmitted to the head) they have suspected concussion... Physical signs Loss of consciousness, vacant expression, vomiting, inappropriate playing behaviour, unsteady on legs, slowed reactions... [Emphasis added]
 Parra had a suspected concussion. He had to go off. He did.

It wasn't a substitution for blood; despite what he says HERE, no-one watching the game would see any evidence he was bleeding, as you can see HERE (it should be said, he himself says he was: but I cannot see any evidence of blood). Moreover, there's a specific signal for that, for which I was watching and - while I'm open to correction - I certainly didn't seeit  made.

So, once he went off, he had to stay off. The IRB Concussion Regulations are quite specific on this:
The Player MUST NOT resume play once removed from the field for suspected concussion.
And the Laws of the game say the same; it's Law 3, (more precisely, Law 3 (12) (a)), which says:

(a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
Exception 1: a substituted player may replace a player with an open or bleeding wound.
Now, Morgan Parra did not have an open or bleeding wound;  he was substituted, replaced by Trinh-Duc, because he was suspected of concussion. But, even assuming he was bleeding, he was certainly suspected of concussion under the regulations. So, either way, that was the end of his game.

Or should have been. Five minutes later, he was back on the pitch; five minutes after that, after shipping another knock, he was off for good.

This was a catastrophic failure on the part of the officials. The IRB Concussion Regulations, and the Laws of the game on injury, were thrown out the window in the most important match in the game. A player was put in danger - because, let's remember, a repeat trauma on top of a concussion is much more dangerous - by the FFR, and the officials, who let him back onto the pitch. As a result, he got injured again. If he suffers long-term consequences (and, please God, he won't), they will be liable, because they failed to enforce rules made for player safety.

It was inexcusable. Rugby claims to have gotten serious on concussion. I raised doubts about this over the manner in which the ARU was treating Will Genia's suspected concussion in August. Today, in the World Cup Final, concussion wasn't treated seriously; it was shrugged off. It was treated like a joke.

It looks more and more like the only way the IRB will really start taking concussion seriously is when it ends up in court, like the NFL. When it does, it can look back at how it handled concussion in the shop-window of the game to the world; and it will realise it only has itself to blame.

Update: I've added links to a Youtube clip HERE and screenshots of Parra just after he took the knock HERE and HERE. You may decide for yourselves if you see any blood on his face; I, for one, certainly cannot.

Further update; Interview with Morgan Parra himself HERE :

I was bleeding a bit, I took a knock and I was a bit dazed... I wanted to come back on...but my neck and head were hurting, and then I took another kick to it ... that's how it goes. [Emphasis added]

Now, even assuming he was bleeding, he was, by his own admission, dazed, had a sore neck and head, and yet nothing was done about enforcing the concussion regulations?


  1. Tim,
    Thank you for a very clear analysis on what was a very dangerous breach of the rules by the IRB officials on duty at Eden Park.
    I hope it does not take loss of life to force these officials to wake up to the danger to players by their ignorant actions.

  2. and what about the agression on M Parra by R McCaw ?

  3. And now its happened on a much greater level in FIFA/Football; i think now the agenda needs and will be pushed.