Munster choose to address O’Mahony concussion issue head-on

Captain adamant he did not suffer concussion against Leinster last week

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony: “I obviously took a knock but if you see it on the video I answered all my questions perfectly to the doc.” Photograph: Inpho

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony: “I obviously took a knock but if you see it on the video I answered all my questions perfectly to the doc.” Photograph: Inpho

 

Munster captain Peter O’Mahony was adamant yesterday that he did not suffer concussion against Leinster at Thomond Park last Saturday evening.

This is despite prolonged on-field treatment following a nasty head-to-knee clash with Seán Cronin in the 38th minute, which necessitated his removal from the game at half-time.

O’Mahony’s desire to continue playing was overruled by Dr Tadhg O’Sullivan. The 24-year-old took no part in the remaining 40 minutes of the 19-15 win that has Rob Penney’s men in ebullient mood ahead of their opening Heineken Cup tie in Edinburgh this weekend.

“I obviously took a knock but if you see it on the video I answered all my questions perfectly to the doc,” said O’Mahony. “You probably didn’t hear that but I could still communicate with Romain (Poite), questioning his penalty, I’m sure that’s a good inclination I felt alright.

“I felt good at half-time but Tadhg, to be fair, it was his call. I wasn’t overly happy about it but that’s the way things go.

“We’re lucky to have a great staff here and I know my welfare is paramount. I trust them to look after me. He made the call. I respect his call.”

Not training
Despite not training yesterday, it’s almost certain the incumbent Irish captain will lead Munster out at Murrayfield come Saturday’s lunch time (kick-off 1.35pm).

“Look, I’ve a week to get myself right. I’m feeling good.”

A final decision will be made tomorrow so while this may not be the latest test case on concussion, Munster coach Rob Penney spoke at length yesterday about the recurring theme of head injuries in modern rugby.

“I treat all these kids as if I am their father,” said Penney. “I would hate for the wrong decision to be made about anyone of them for any injury . . . that’s part of our responsibility as managers of these young men.”

Penney admitted to witnessing severe cases of repetitive concussion during his coaching career with Canterbury, especially a younger Richie McCaw and particularly Leon MacDonald.

MacDonald, the 56 times capped All Black, needed to take a year away from the game to treat his condition, before returning with a Japanese club in 2004.

“Player welfare is paramount,” Penney continued. “From where I come from we have had a couple of high profile issues around the whole head injury thing. The reality is there are expert medical staff on the sidelines at each fixture and they are going to make sure the welfare of the individual is going to be taken care of every time.

“I would be very surprised if any medical professional would compromise their profession by not doing the right thing by the athlete.”


Protocols rejected
There is not, however, an independent medical practitioner present at rugby matches. The current IRB protocols on the treatment of concussion have been rejected by the GAA and criticised by Chris Nowinski, author of Head Games, which focuses on the detrimental effects head injuries in contact sports.

The IRB introduced the five minute “head bin,” where a player has that period of time to recover and pass a verbal test. The decision to stick with this solution prompted former Irish international Dr Barry O’Driscoll to resign from the governing body.

“Rugby is trivialising concussion,” O’Driscoll told The Scotsman earlier this year. “They are sending these guys back on to the field and into the most brutal arena. It’s ferocious out there. The same player who 18 months ago was given a minimum of seven days recovery time is now given five minutes. There is no test that you can do in five minutes that will show that a player is not concussed.”

The Pro12 and ERC confirmed this week they are not operating concussion bins for matches because they are waiting to hear the results of the IRB trials on concussion that are currently taking place.