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SBD Global/April 11, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

National Rugby League Considering NFL-Style 'Spotters' To Monitor Concussions

The National Rugby League is looking to "tackle the concussion dilemma by following the lead" of the NFL and "installing 'spotters' in stadium boxes to closely monitor players who may be affected by head knocks," according to Chris Barrett of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The NRL is examining "world's best practice in a bid to stamp out players carrying on playing after being concussed and it's understood a model of particular interest is the NFL." The NFL has introduced a "raft of rule changes, sideline concussion tests and return-to-play guidelines in recent years, and last year stationed independent neurologists on the sidelines at all games to evaluate players and treat head injuries." The NRL "made it clear before the season" that it was not considering adopting the "independent doctor model themselves," but another NFL innovation is "being considered." The so-called "eye in the sky," a trainer "positioned in a grandstand box to closely watch for dazed and groggy players, has been a fixture at all NFL games" since '12. If the NRL "ultimately chooses to go down that path and adopt a similar system, the spotters" would have access to replays and be able to "call sideline medicos to request players be withdrawn to undergo an immediate SCAT3 test" (SMH, 4/10). In Sydney, Paul Crawley opined NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg's comments about the why game "can't immediately ban all lifting tackles is not good enough." Greenberg "all but ruled out making changes to lifting tackle laws this season." The NRL "can't continue to gamble with player safety." It "can't wait until next year to change a rule that should have been changed long ago" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 4/11). In Canberra, Lee Gaskin reported NRL Canberra forward Joel Edwards "credits the NRL club for putting his welfare first, admitting the Raiders saved him." His teammate, Raiders prop Dane Tilse, said that the game's new concussion policy "would face its biggest test when it comes to key players being dazed during finals football at the end of the year." Tilse: "If you get to a semifinal and one of your key players -- like a half or a fullback who you're paying big money to win you the game -- goes down, it's going to be a talking point at the back end of the year" (CANBERRA TIMES, 4/10).
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