Top 14: French Rugby Authorities Drop Ball On Fritz Concussion

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CASTRES, FRANCE – Remember this, 20 minutes into last season’sTop 14 play-off quarter-final between Toulouse and Racing Metro in May?

The accidental collision between Florian Fritz’s head and Francois van der Merwe’s knee left the Toulouse centre bloodied, dazed and confused – and in no fit state to continue.

But it was followed, 15 minutes later, by this:

Shortly after this scene outside the club’s medical room, Fritz, with 12 stitches in a nasty head wound and still apparently glassy eyed, returned to the pitch at Stade Ernest Wallon for the closing minutes of the first half.

He didn’t come back after the break. Speaking to broadcaster Canal+ from the bench midway through the second half, Fritz said: “I had a small KO. I don’t remember everything.”

Today, four months after the incident, a commission set up by France’s Ligue National de Rugby (LNR) has delivered its report on the incident.

The LNR has decided to send a strongly worded letter to Toulouse, reminding the club of its obligations regarding the treatment of players with concussion.

They have ruled that no other sanction is necessary.

LNR President Paul Goze told Agence France Presse: “The conclusion of the expert report, is that the concussion protocol was not applied as it should have been.”

Mr Goze added that the media outcry following the high-profile incident, and the subsequent tightening of protocols surrounding the treatment of players with concussion meant that no formal sanctions against the club or any of its staff were needed.

“The Fritz case was highly publicised, everyone was furious to see the incident because it was in a play-off game,” he said.

But he added: “There were other incidents in the season, so there’s no reason to punish a club because it happened under a bigger spotlight than another.”

He said that independent medical professionals would be present at all play-off matches in the Top 14 and ProD2 from this season.

Clermont's Zac Guildford
Clermont’s Zac Guildford
Meanwhile, Clermont’s Zac Guildford will be out of action for the next four weeks after he was attacked in the early hours of Sunday.

Guildford suffered a badly bruised jaw after being kicked in the face by one of three assailants as he headed home with team-mate Jonathan Davies after celebrating the Jaunards emphatic Top 14 win over Racing Metro.

Davies was unhurt.

It is the second time in less than two months that a Clermont player has been attacked in the street. In July, Benjamin Kayser, Julien Pierre and Aurelien Rougerie were hospitalised following a machete attack in the town of Millau, near where the players were attending a pre-season training camp.

Clermont’s sporting director Jean-Marc Lhermet said that Guildford was nothing more than a victim in the attack.

Mr Lhermet said: “We have had nothing to reproach him over since he arrived.

“It is true we would have preferred he didn’t find himself mixed-up in this but I don’t want aspersions made regarding his past.”

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About James Harrington 196 Articles
James Harrington... Before injury brought his rugby career to a timely end, journalist James was equally useless whether he packed down in the second row or at number 8, positions in which he represented his school and university with indistinction. The prolific one now lives in France with his journalist wife and three children and watches as much Top 14, European and international action he thinks he can get away with; justifying his obsession by claiming: "But it's all work, Honey!"