George Smith – Houdini of the Pitch Side Concussion Assessment (PSCA)?





(Picture courtesy of

George Smith being allowed to return to the B&I Lions vs Australia final test after a clear cut concussion is indicative of the PSCA being used as a “get out of jail” card. 

The All Blacks version of this test is clear in that it should ONLY be performed for ambigious cases of concussion ( The test is NOT required for a clear-cut concussion, which has one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. Tonic posturing
  2. Convulsions
  3. Loss of Consciousness (LOC) – as confirmed by medically trained person

Whether medically trained or not, it was obvious both at the time and while watching the many repeats of this incident that Smith had LOC and therefore did not require the PSCA to confirm his diagnosis. Furthermore, he couldn’t walk off the field unaided (not a “definition” of concussion, but noteworthy as to his lack of recovery from the incident).

This is unfortunate as the IRB took an enormous and admirable step in initiating the trial of the PSCA purely on the basis of improving the welfare of it’s players. As with any new trial, there could always be “teething issues” – and I assume this is one such issue that will be resolved quickly so that this test will have the intended effect.




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