Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Things that go Bump in the Afternoon

Rugby is a rough game and long may it stay so, but last Saturday I ended up abandoning my first game. 

I took charge of what should have been a hotly contested Surrey merit match. The game had been played at a moderate pace and with a good spirit, in dry and unseasonably warm condition, cloud cover was think and consequently the light was poor. The Home side had raced to a 34-12 lead by the start of the second half, when the Visitors won good ball from a penalty line out on the home 22. They moved the ball to the middle of the field and the centre took the ball at pace on the 22m line, he was tackled by his opposite number and dropped very quickly. The tackle was hard and there was quite a collision but it looked fair.

It was clear, post-tackle, that the Blue player wasn’t coming around never mind getting up. I immediately stopped play and two Blue members ran on to the field to help their team mate, the one who took charge I later learned was a fire fighter and looked to know how to care for the injured player. The fire fighter removed the player’s gum-shield and there looked to be a great deal of blood in the mouth/nose area and the player was choking as a consequence. An ambulance was quickly called and after 3-5 minutes the player look to be regaining consciousness. The ambulance arrived around 10-15 minutes later and eventually the player was judged fit enough to walk into the ambulance and was taken to hospital.

A number of the Visitors and spectators were agitated after the tackle as they felt the tackler hadn’t used his arms, I don’t have a clear recollection on whether his arms were correctly deployed but my first instinct was that it was a hard but fair tackle. The tackler sustained a nasty blow to the head but walked away. I suspect that heads clashed before the arms where fully raised.

The light was fading and within the hour it would be too dark to play safely. I spoke to the captains about continuing the game on the adjacent pitch before the ambulance arrived, around 15 minutes after I stopped the game. Both captains agreed that whilst this was possible the concern for the injured player and bad-tempered fallout from the circumstances of the injury meant that the game should be abandoned.

I haven't heard if there was any on-going problems, hopefully the injury isn't as life changing as this one. I am sure that the happy outcome of the day's events was in good part due to the prompt action by the para-medic fireman. It does worry me how many games, even in the leagues, that have absolutely no medical coverage, maybe the RFU should spending more time addressing this than Mike Tindall's nocturnal adventures.

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