Change to sub rule ’would have massive implications’

A Congress motion to empower referees to adjudicate on head injuries is not practical and could carry “massive insurance implications”, according to Dr Kevin Moran.

Change to sub rule ’would have massive implications’

A Congress motion to empower referees to adjudicate on head injuries is not practical and could carry “massive insurance implications”, according to Dr Kevin Moran.

The St Rynagh’s club in Offaly is proposing an amendment to the blood sub rule, whereby a player who suffers a head injury shall, on the instruction of the referee, immediately leave the field of play to receive attention.

A temporary substitute, the same as with the blood sub rule, would be permitted to replace the injured player.

But while Donegal team doctor Moran accepts injured players are “completely unreliable” and cannot be trusted to remove themselves from the action, he does not agree with empowering referees to make a call on whether or not a player is concussed.

Moran — a member of the GAA Medical, Scientific, and Welfare Committee — warns that placing the burden of responsibility in the hands of a referee could trigger “massive insurance and legal implications”.

St Rynagh’s chairman and Offaly Central Council delegate Paddy Scales says their motion was drawn up with a view to improving player safety.

“The injured players are always the most reluctant to leave the field,” said Scales.

“As things stand, if a team is going to lose a sub by taking somebody off who doesn’t want to come off, then they probably won’t make the change.

They will leave that player on, whereas five minutes on the sideline and the chance to properly assess the injured player could make an awful difference.

“And they wouldn’t lose a sub in the process as it would now be deemed a temporary substitution.”

Moran says there is “a lot of merit” in the motion, but added it is “almost impossible” to legislate for concussion in the rules.

“The motion is motivated by genuine concern for the welfare of players at all levels within the association. But if you consider that at only 5% of our games is there a doctor, chartered physio, or indeed a person with the relevant medical expertise to make a decision, then you are left with a circumstance where in 95% of our games, probably the calmest and most objective person is the referee,” he said.

“After that, though, comes a big, big ‘but’. The problem then is you are placing a burden of responsibility on referees and they just don’t have the professional expertise to discharge that responsibility, and going along with that then is massive insurance and legal implications,” insisted Moran.

The wording of the motion refers to head injuries; 10-20% of concussions are actually as a result of an impact to the body. And they can often be missed by somebody who doesn’t have the necessary expertise.

“The motion also refers to a player being taken off for a head injury assessment. In the 95% case where there is no doctor present, or a medic of any description, then there certainly isn’t somebody capable of doing a head injury assessment on the sideline. It falls down from that perspective as well.”

If passed, the amendment would remove the dangerous possibility of a team leaving an injured player on the field if they had already used their full complement of subs. But Moran argues this could be abused, as players may feign a head injury to allow additional subs be introduced.

In his annual report a fortnight ago, GAA director general Tom Ryan expressed concern over “the increasing numbers of hip surgeries required by players in the 20-26 age bracket”.

Moran saysys that training methods have to be “carefully supervised” so that more and more players do not end up on the operating table.

“There has been an increased number of surgeries for hip problems, and almost certainly this is related to training. Gym regimes for underage players have changed," he said.

All of this needs to be monitored very carefully and needs to be carefully supervised. If there is an increase of injuries in any one area, that is cause for concern.

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