Lions star Alun Wyn Jones should not have been allowed back on after HIA, says Matt Stevens
Last Updated: 10/07/17 3:46pm
Alun Wyn Jones should not have been allowed back onto the field during the third Test against New Zealand because he had exceeded the time limit allowed for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), says Matt Stevens.
The British and Irish Lions forward was forced from the field in Saturday's series decider, which ended 15-15, after being caught by Jerome Kaino's swinging arm early with 49:20 on the play clock.
Referee Romain Poite signalled for time off at 49:45, at which point a groggy-looking Jones was sent from the field to undergo a HIA. Jones did not come back until the clock had ticked to 66:27 when he replaced Lions captain Sam Warburton, and that switch should not have been allowed.
Rule 3.12a) of World Rugby's code relating to HIAs states that a maximum of 10 minutes is allowed for the player who leaves the field to be assessed by medical staff, before a decision is made whether he can return to the match.
A total of 16mins, 42 secs had elapsed on the clock by the time Jones returned to the field.
The law states: "If that player is not presented to a match official at the touchline within 10 minutes (actual time) of leaving the field…..the replacement will automatically become permanent, and the replaced player is not allowed to return to the field of play."
Former British and Irish Lions prop Matt Stevens believes officials were wrong to allow Jones back on.
Stevens told Sky Sports News HQ: "Clearly the law states that he should not have been allowed back on.
"But that is something that is managed by the medical team in conjunction with the match officials.
"The intensity of the game was epic, as we all know, and that was something that was missed. There was an error of judgement in letting him back on the field. That is pretty straightforward."
The return of Jones was a big boost for the Lions because at that point in the game Jack McGrath, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, CJ Stander and Ben Te'o had already been introduced off the bench.
Warburton was also forced off to undergo a HIA so his withdrawal was not voluntary on the part of the Lions coaching staff, with the Lions' back-row cover Stander already on the pitch as a half-time replacement for the injured Sean O'Brien.
The Lions only unused substitutes at that point were Ken Owens, Rhys Webb and Jack Nowell - none of which were a natural replacement for Warburton in the back row. The return of Jones allowed Courtney Lawes to shift to No 6, a position he is comfortable in.