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Be alert as to dangers.

Byline: TANNI GREY-THOMPSON

I AM Welsh. One of my favourite sports is rugby. I am feeling sad this week. Sport is cruel.

I felt so positive on Friday morning, even through until about 9.55pm.

I have to say that the stand-off in the tunnel before the Wales v England match was a little strange, but all part of the tactics of sport. There was a little bit of it that was funny and interesting, although I did just want to say to both teams just to get on with it.

Wales turned up for some of the first half, then completely and utterly lost their momentum and England stepped up to the plate.

I did Tweet that I wanted a good game and I think we certainly got that. Even as the strongest Welsh supporter, I had to say that England played well. It doesn't ultimately make the pain of losing any better, but it definitely made me feel better in the days after.

What hasn't gone away from me, however, is the ongoing conversation about concussion in sport and what happened on the pitch. George North took a hit to the head and the concussion protocol was followed, but the second time it wasn't picked up.

The debate will continue over whether he was adequately back in the game or not, and whether he was really contributing.

The reason I became interested in concussion was because I met the dad of a young man called Ben Robinson. He was 14 when he died in 2011 when he was concussed three times on the rugby pitch at a local game.

His parents have campaigned, not to stop people playing the game, but for better understanding about what happens if a player is concussed, or potentially concussed, on the pitch.

The message is simple: if in doubt, sit them out. There is absolutely no point in sending a concussed player back on to the pitch, because they are not going to contribute to the game.

It should not be for the player to decide because, of course, they will want to stay on. Their future career is partly dependent on them being seen.

It can't be for coaches to decide either. It has to be an independent decision based on the health and long-term welfare of the player, to make sure that beyond their life in sport, they are healthy.

Rugby is one of the sports that is working on it. They are taking measures, but all sports need to do more, whether it is football, hockey or gymnastics.

There needs to be an educational process, not just for sports, but for schools and parents - we need to protect everyone who wants to play sport.

CAPTION(S):

George |North leaves the field for assessment after his first injury

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 12, 2015
Words:468
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