Pro12: Head injury video system could be introduced

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The concussion review panel has emphasised the importance of video replays for medical staff

The Pro12 is in talks to bring in a new video system to help medical staff review head injuries during all games.

Officials already have access to replays in the league, which has Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Italian teams.

But after the incident involving Northampton's George North in England's Premiership, officials could bring in a more comprehensive "bespoke" system.

"Pro12 Rugby is committed to ensuring that player safety remains a priority," a spokesperson said.

"Pro12 Rugby is in discussion with several providers about implementing a bespoke video system to facilitate more comprehensive access to match footage for medical staff, team management and disciplinary and match official performance review at all 135 games."

Why are video reviews important?

The use of video replays for reviewing head injuries is in focus after Wales winger North hit his head in Northampton's defeat by Leicester.

The 24-year-old fell heavily after a mid-air collision with Leicester's Adam Thompstone in their 19-11 defeat on 3 December.

The winger returned to action in that match after a head injury assessment, despite television replays showing him lying motionless on the pitch immediately after the tackle.

An investigation by the independent concussion review panel decided Saints will face no sanction over their handling of the incident.

However, the concussion review panel concluded North should not have returned to the field of play and emphasised the importance of video replays - and their monitoring - for medical staff.

North, meanwhile, will return to action on 23 December after an enforced break of nearly three weeks.

What happens at the moment?

The Pro12 implemented World Rugby head injury protocols in 2014 and adopted the current Head Injury Assessment (HIA) along with the Six Nations following a trial period in August 2015.

The league claims that made them the first tournament to implement the regulations.

It also requires all players, coaches and medical staff to sign a document committing them to ensuring correct procedures are followed and undertaking "mandatory online courses in concussion management" as part of the participation agreement.

Head injuries are reviewed by a group which has disciplinary powers.

A Pro12 spokesman said: "No matter how sophisticated the technology employed, such video systems will serve only as a tool to assist our medical personnel and doctors, who act to the highest standards and in the best interest of our players.

"We have a medical subcommittee comprised of members from our four territories of operation and this group is constantly establishing, reviewing and improving our protocols around player safety."

Welsh Rugby Union chairman Gareth Davies says the decision not to punish Northampton was the correct one.

"It's raised the awareness once again," Davies told BBC Wales Sport.

"I think people in clubs and national governing bodies are doing the right thing for the players and I'm sure that would have been Northampton's intention, albeit some people would claim George should not have gone back on the field."

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