Wigan Warriors versus Catalans Dragons to trial first live Super League concussion spotter

Aaron Bower
Joe Philbin has to leave the field for a HIA after suffering a concussion

Super League will trial a live concussion spotter for the first time at tonight’s Grand Final rematch between Wigan Warriors and Catalans Dragons.

As part of the continued attempt to spot and withdraw players who are suffering from possible concussions in rugby league, the Rugby Football League had already confirmed a spotter would be trialed throughout 2024. And that will happen for the first time at this evening’s Super League showdown between the Warriors and the Dragons.

The intention was originally for a doctor to be a pitch-side with a spotter placed inside the ground – but the system will now involve a spotter inside the Sky ‘bunker’ at Wilmslow alongside the video referee, giving them full access to camera angles and replays.

If the spotter believes a player has suffered a potential concussion or head injury, the incident will be clipped and immediately sent through to the relevant club’s doctor at pitch-side.

The doctor will then conduct a live review with the available footage and remove the player for a Head Injury Assessment if they believe it is necessary.

“In the past, what we’ve been reliant upon was the live camera staying on the player in question to check the signs and symptoms that player may be displaying,” the RFL’s Robert Hicks explained.

“We’re hoping in the next couple of weeks that the live spotter will increase from one game a round, to a couple, to hopefully every game.

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“The metrics for success are: did we get it right? Did the doctors make good clinical decisions? The data is more qualitative than quantitive, and it’s all about doing something that makes better decisions about player health.”

Hicks believes the trial will lead to more players being withdrawn from the action – but not necessarily an uptick in the amount of diagnosed concussions.

“There’ll be more players come off in the coming weeks,” he admitted. “The main driver is it remains with the club doctor to take the player off.

“All the trial does is provide footage to look at that player and piece it together with information they get with player on the day. Sometimes it can look like it’s a head collision and from the reverse angle, it’s not.

“Naturally we’ll see more players taken from the field over the weeks, because the better the footage, the more chance we’ll see them. It will always remain with the club doctor to make a clinical decision though.”

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