World Rugby investigating Australia not substituting Nic White after brain injury

Despite being unsteady of his feet, scrumhalf was not removed from the fray

World Rugby says it is “looking at the circumstances” of the controversial events in Dublin on Saturday when Australia’s Nic White was allowed to return to the field despite clear signs he had sustained a brain injury in the second half of his side’s 13-10 defeat against Ireland.

White has since been stood down for 12 days and will miss the final game of the Wallabies’ tour against Wales. But despite being visibly unsteady on his feet after a tackle on Mack Hansen and an accidental collision with Josh van der Flier’s boot, the scrumhalf was not permanently removed from the fray as should have been the case.

Instead the former Exeter player was allowed back after passing a head injury assessment, prompting an angry reaction from the concussion pressure group Progressive Rugby. It has since been claimed the independent match day doctor and the Australian medical team missed the crucial footage of a dazed, stumbling White because they were busy reviewing the initial tackle.

While White has not subsequently exhibited any symptoms of concussion, there are clear echoes of the incident involving Tomas Francis during England’s game against Wales game at Twickenham this year. A subsequent investigation found the Wales prop should have been “immediately and permanently removed from play” and a number of recommendations were put forward to avoid similar mistakes in future.


White’s absence from the Wales game compounds the availability problems increasingly being experienced by the Wallabies. Dave Porecki, Taniela Tupou, Hunter Paisami, Rob Valetini and Andrew Kellaway are all injured, while Bernard Foley and Will Skelton are required to return to their respective Japanese and French clubs because the match falls outside the international window.

Tupou looks likely to be the longest absentee, the prop having sustained a serious Achilles injury that could make him a doubt for next year’s Rugby World Cup in France. – Guardian