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SBD Global/September 4, 2013/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Ex-Wallabies Captain Says ARU Could Face NFL-Style Class Action Over Concussions

Former Australian Rugby Union side Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom said the ARU could be leaving itself open to an NFL-style class action by following "terribly inadequate and dangerous" protocols regarding concussions, according to Georgina Robinson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The NFL last week reached a $765M out-of-court settlement on a class action launched by more than 4,500 players "who alleged the league hid what it knew about the dangers of repeated blows to the head." Elsom, who played 75 Tests for the Wallabies between '05 and '11 and captained the side for two years, said that int'l guidelines set by the Int'l Rugby Board, followed by the ARU, "were woefully inadequate and could put the game at risk in Australia." Elsom said, "If you think that the person that gets concussed can recover in five minutes and be back out on the field, that doesn't seem to match up too well and it could cause a fair bit of trouble, for the player most importantly, but also for the sporting body if they don't change the way they do things." The IRB recently extended and tightened a global trial of its Pitchside Suspected Concussion Assessment protocol for a further year, citing a 25% rise in "players permanently leaving the pitch as a result of the new testing regime." Elsom said that "he had no faith in the IRB's existing system and said more caution was needed." Elsom: "I think [clearing players of concussion after a sideline test] is a naive and a very dangerous stance to have. Dangerous for whoever employs the doctor and dangerous for the player to have a doctor that works like that" (SMH, 9/4).
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