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Toulouse condemned after player allowed to play on following severe head knock

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Concussed rugby union player stuns fans

French club Tolouse is under fire after allowing centre Florian Fritz to keep playing after being knocked out in a tackle.

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French rugby has attracted worldwide condemnation after a player in the country's Top 14 competition was allowed to return to the game after suffering a severe head knock. 

Toulouse centre Florian Fritz was left bloodied and visibly dazed after coming into contact with an opposition player's knee in the 19th minute of his side's 21-16 loss to Racing Metro in Toulouse on Friday.

Video footage showed Fritz being helped off the field and trying to wave off help from match officials before collapsing to the ground on the sideline and taken into the dressing rooms for medical attention. 

Battered: Florian Fritz leaves the field during the quarter-final match between Toulouse and Racing Metro.

Battered: Florian Fritz leaves the field during the quarter-final match between Toulouse and Racing Metro. Photo: AFP

After spending about 17 minutes off the field, separate footage showed him being ushered back out by Toulouse manager Guy Noves to finish the final few minutes of the half. 

Fritz did not return after the break and was replaced with French Test player Gael Fickou.

"I had a small KO [knock out], I don't remember everything," Fritz told French broadcaster Canal+. "It was better to leave a fresh guy like Gaël Fickou [replace him]."

Fritz collapses as he attempts to walk from the field.

Fritz collapses as he attempts to walk from the field. Photo: Screengrab

The incident attracted widespread criticism, much of it centred around Noves's handling of the situation, with players from around Europe condemning Fritz's return to play. 

"What a shambles that Fritz is allowed back on to the field! Makes a mockery of things," respected England prop Alex Corbisiero tweeted on Saturday. 

Former Scotland and Toulon winger Rory Lamont also weighed in, telling espnscrum.com that management's decision-making was "bewildering". 

"In terms of all the signs and symptoms of an obvious concussion, that was as bad as it gets," Lamont said.

"To see him come back on after that is just bewildering. It is difficult to tell what went on without speaking to those involved but there is a standard process where medics are put under huge pressure to get a player back on the field."

Rugby worldwide is under fierce pressure to reform its treatment and protocols around head knocks after a number of high profile incidents involving players either returning to play after what appear to be bad head knocks, or suffering long periods out of the game. 

The sport's world governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB), has rolled out strict protocol nicknamed "head bin" which sees affected players assessed by an independent medico, who decides whether they return to play. 

Last year further guidelines were added, tightening the process so that if a player lost consciousness or was visibly affected by the knock, automatic removal was required. 

However, the IRB's capacity to enforce the way national unions - in this instance the French Rugby Federation (FFR) - use the protocols is severely limited. 

"It is shocking players are still being allowed to return to the field after such obvious signs of concussion," former IRB medical adviser Barry O’Driscoll, who is a critic of the IRB's so-called Pitch Side Concussion Assessment, told English newspaper The Daily Mail

"If rugby doesn’t wake up to this and start demonstrating a zero tolerance approach to head injuries, it will be storing up some very serious legal problems for itself."

Former Super Rugby title-winning Chiefs captain Craig Clarke earlier this year announced an indefinite break from rugby after suffering his 10th concussion in 22 months, the most recent while playing with Irish province Connacht. 

Australian sport has also come under the spotlight for the various codes' handling of concussion in contact sports. 

The Australian Rugby Union's (ARU) chief doctor Warren McDonald was heavily criticised after allowing Wallabies veteran George Smith to return to play after losing consciousness in the third Test against the British and Irish Lions last year. 

The AFL has been forced to review its approach to contact after Melbourne Demons player Jack Viney escaped punishment for his collision with Adelaide's Tom Lynch. Viney was originally suspended for two matches but successfully appealed the decision. 

Former Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom was an outspoken critic of Australia's treatment of head injuries, warning an NFL-style multi million dollar class action was possible here if rugby in particular did not overhaul its protocols. 

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Round 1
Fri, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
CRU 10 vs REB 20 Report Stats
BRU 47 vs RED 3 Stats
Sat, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
LIO 8 vs HUR 22 Report Stats
BLU 18 vs CHF 23 Report Stats
Sun, 15 FebTimes shown AEDT
SHA 29 vs CHT 35 Report Stats
BUL 17 vs STO 29 Report Stats
WAR 13 vs FOR 25 Stats
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Round 2
Fri, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHF 19 vs BRU 17 Report Stats
REB 28 vs WAR 38 Report Stats
Sat, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
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HIG 20 vs CRU 26 Report Stats
RED 18 vs FOR 6 Report Stats
Sun, 22 FebTimes shown AEDT
STO 27 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
SHA 29 vs LIO 12 Report Stats
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Round 3
Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
HIG 20 vs RED 13 Report Stats
FOR 13 vs HUR 42 Stats
Sat, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CHT 25 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
CHF 40 vs CRU 16 Stats
REB 15 vs BRU 20 Report Stats
Sun, 01 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 43 vs SHA 35 Report Stats
LIO 19 vs STO 22 Report Stats
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Round 4
Fri, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 17 vs HIG 20 Report Stats
BRU 27 vs FOR 15 Report Stats
Sat, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 10 vs LIO 13 Report Stats
RED 5 vs WAR 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 20 vs BUL 39 Report Stats
STO 29 vs SHA 13 Report Stats
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Round 5
Fri, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 30 vs BLU 23 Report Stats
FOR 17 vs REB 21 Report Stats
Sat, 14 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 34 vs LIO 6 Report Stats
HIG 26 vs WAR 19 Report Stats
RED vs BRU 29 Stats
Sun, 15 MarTimes shown AEDT
STO 19 vs CHF 28 Report Stats
CHT 10 vs SHA 27 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
HIG 13 vs HUR 20 Report Stats
REB 16 vs LIO 20 Report Stats
Sat, 21 MarTimes shown AEDT
CRU 57 vs CHT 14 Report Stats
Sun, 22 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 25 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
SHA 12 vs CHF 11 Report Stats
WAR 28 vs BRU 13 Report Stats
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Round 7
Fri, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 36 vs REB 12 Report Stats
RED 17 vs LIO 18 Report Stats
Sat, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 37 vs CHT 27 Report Stats
HIG 39 vs STO 21 Report Stats
WAR 23 vs BLU 11 Report Stats
Sun, 29 MarTimes shown AEDT
SHA 15 vs FOR 9 Report Stats
BUL 31 vs CRU 19 Report Stats
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Round 8
Fri, 03 AprTimes shown AEDT
HUR 25 vs STO 20 Report Stats
REB 23 vs RED 15 Report Stats
Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
CHF 23 vs BLU 16 Report Stats
BRU 20 vs CHT 3 Report Stats
Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEDT
SHA 10 vs CRU 52 Report Stats
LIO 22 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
BLU 16 vs BRU 14 Report Stats
Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 20 vs HIG 25 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs STO 32 Report Stats
FOR 15 vs CHT 24 Report Stats
Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 23 vs SHA 21 Report Stats
BUL 43 vs RED 22 Report Stats
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Round 10
Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 9 vs CHF 26 Report Stats
Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
HUR 24 vs WAR 29 Report Stats
HIG 30 vs BLU 24 Report Stats
BRU 8 vs REB 13 Report Stats
FOR 6 vs STO 13 Report Stats
Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
SHA 10 vs BUL 17 Report Stats
CHT 17 vs RED 18 Report Stats
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Round 11
Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 35 vs FOR 27 Report Stats
BRU 31 vs HIG 18 Report Stats
Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 29 vs BLU 15 Report Stats
WAR 18 vs REB 16 Report Stats
Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
LIO 34 vs CHT 29 Report Stats
STO 15 vs BUL 13 Report Stats
RED 19 vs HUR 35 Report Stats
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Round 12
Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 48 vs SHA 15 Report Stats
BRU 10 vs WAR 13 Report Stats
Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 41 vs FOR 24 Report Stats
HUR 29 vs CRU 23 Report Stats
REB 16 vs CHF 15 Report Stats
Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT 25 vs STO 17 Report Stats
BUL 35 vs LIO 33 Report Stats
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Round 13
Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 58 vs RED 17 Report Stats
REB 42 vs BLU 22 Report Stats
Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 32 vs SHA 24 Report Stats
FOR 18 vs WAR 11 Report Stats
LIO 28 vs HIG 23 Report Stats
Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
STO 25 vs BRU 24 Report Stats
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Round 14
Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU 23 vs BUL 18 Report Stats
RED 46 vs REB 29 Report Stats
Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 22 vs CHF 18 Report Stats
WAR 33 vs SHA 18 Report Stats
Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
LIO 20 vs BRU 30 Report Stats
CHT 24 vs HIG 45 Report Stats
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Round 15
Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
CHF 15 vs BUL 15 Stats
RED vs SHA 19:40SS
Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HUR 17:35EP
WAR vs CRU 19:40ANZ
FOR vs HIG 21:45nib Stadium
Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
CHT vs LIO 01:05FSS
STO vs REB 03:10DHL Newlands
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Round 16
Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU vs HUR 17:35Trafalgar Park
BRU vs BUL 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA vs REB 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
HIG vs CHF 17:35Rugby Park
FOR vs RED 19:40nib Stadium
Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
STO vs CHT 01:05DHL Newlands
LIO vs WAR 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Round 17
Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
HUR vs HIG 17:35McLean Park
FOR vs BRU 21:00nib Stadium
Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
REB vs BUL 15:30AAMI
BLU vs CRU 17:35EP
RED vs CHF 19:40SS
CHT vs WAR 23:00FSS
Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
STO vs LIO 01:05DHL Newlands
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Round 18
Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
BLU vs HIG 17:35EP
REB vs FOR 19:40AAMI
Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
BRU vs CRU 15:30GIO Stadium
CHF vs HUR 17:35Yarrow Stadium
WAR vs RED 19:40AS
Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
BUL vs CHT 01:05Loftus Versfeld
SHA vs STO 03:10Growthpoint Kings Park
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Round 19
Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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7 vs 7 09:00
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Round 20
Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
7 vs 7 09:00
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Round 21
Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
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Overall standings
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Hurricanes 12 11 1 0 119 52
Brumbies 13 7 6 0 102 38
Bulls 12 7 5 0 43 35
Chiefs 12 8 4 0 73 39
Waratahs 12 8 4 0 40 36
Stormers 12 8 4 0 26 34
Highlanders 12 8 4 0 69 39
Lions 13 7 6 0 -50 31
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