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Kyran Bracken wades into the Nic White HIA 'at its worst' row

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former England scrum-half Kyran Bracken has added to the chorus of criticism that erupted over Nic White being allowed to play on for Australia in their Saturday night defeat to Ireland. The Wallabies No9 had allegedly exhibited concussion symptoms while on the Aviva Stadium pitch but he came through his early second-half HIA and was allowed to return to the field of play.

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Concussion awareness group Progressive Rugby brought attention to the incident when it tweeted footage of White seemingly looking unsteady and dazed while being attended to by an on-pitch medic before going off for his assessment. That test was passed, allowing the half-back to get back into a game that Ireland eventually won 13-10 with a late penalty kick.

“Progressive Rugby respectfully require answers from the Wallabies after a player who exhibited category one symptoms of brain injury (Nic White) was not permanently removed from the game between Ireland and Australia.

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“White, clearly unsteady and dazed, instead underwent a HIA and was returned to the field. This is unacceptable and further deepens our concern about the HIA protocol and whether it is fit for the purpose of properly protecting players.”

The Progressive Rugby tweets prompted a response from Bracken, a regular advocate of concussion awareness. “I see HIA at its worst again,” he wrote. “Player not removed when clear brain injury. How can medics allow him to play on? Winning should not be at all costs!”

White insisted post-game in Dublin that he wasn’t concussed and was fine to play on. “I was pulled off by the physio to do a HIA, I felt fine,” he explained to media at the stadium. “I passed my HIA, I went back on. I remember everything, clear as day, I feel fine. I feel good. I passed my HIA and I was good to go. Very confident, I did the HIA and I passed it.

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“Like, I’m 78kg – running up against these blokes. Mate, I feel fine now. You guys can attest to that. The process, I did the HIA and passed it. I’m good. I was just a little ginger, I’m fine mate.”

The White controversy also prompted a post-game argument on Irish TV between ex-Ireland international Rob Kearney and former Scotland coach Matt Williams, who were both working for Virgin Media Sport. Kearney claimed: “There is no way he should be returning to the field of play.” However, Williams insisted: “I totally disagree. We’re not doctors!”

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