Research in US backed up hurling helmet proposal
Congress will be asked to ‘rebalance’ burden of responsibility for ensuring hurlers wear helmets, which currently falls to the referee
According to Feargal McGill, the GAA’s head of games adminsitration and player welfare, a referee could potentially be sued for not ensuring a player was wearing the appropriate headgear. Photograph: INPHO/James Crombie
The GAA took legal advice and researched the experience of sports in the US before formulating the proposals to go before tomorrow’s special congress.
That congress – simply an extension of tomorrow’s Central Council whose members will serve as delegates – will be asked to “re-balance” the burden of responsibility for ensuring hurlers wear helmets, which currently falls to the match referee.
Feargal McGill, the GAA’s head of games administration and player welfare, said the association had been anxious, amongst other things, to limit the exposure of match officials to litigation.
“We would have taken legal advice because there was an issue of where responsibility lay. The way the rule was written placed all of the responsibility on the referee and none on the player. Potentially a referee could be sued for not ensuring a player was wearing the appropriate headgear.
“The experience of sports in America was checked because the litigation culture there is very strong. Lacrosse was the most relevant example because in professional and college sports there is more of an onus on the team coaches and managers to ensure their player are conforming to safety standards and the evidence suggested we should amend our rules. Essentially we needed to strike a better balance of responsibilities and place more of a burden on players themselves.”