ST Munchin’s College rugby coach Pat Cross has revealed that he was left ‘taken aback and distressed’ that Wednesday’s Munster Schools Junior Cup tie with PBC was restarted, but stressed that his side didn’t return to the playing field on ‘health and safety grounds’.
St Munchin’s College Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Junior Cup quarter-final clash with PBC, of Cork, in Musgrave Park was abandoned on Wednesday afternoon as three of the Limerick side’s players suffered serious injuries.
All three students were taken to Cork University Hospital by ambulance but were released last night.
After five minutes in Musgrave Park, a clash of heads involving two of the Limerick school’s players resulted in a long break in play and the players were taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital.
And a short time later, in a further incident in the run of play, a third player suffered a concussion-related injury, and was also taken to hospital as a precaution.
“Our young squad of players were not in a safe psychological state to return to the field and continue to play in a tough physical cup contest,” explained Pat Cross of their failure to reappear for the game’s restart.
“As coaches we felt obliged to protect them and made a decision not to return to the field on health and safety grounds and our overriding concern was player welfare as required by the department of education and the IRFU. We made our concerns strongly and repeatedly to the officials on the day and to the Munster Branch representatives. Finally we were very much taken aback and distressed by the fact that the referee requested us to return to the field and that the game would continue in five minutes and proceeded to start the game with no opposition on the field.”
Cross added: “As a proud, sporting and respected rugby school, that has made a huge contribution to Munster and Irish rugby, we have never being involved in such an incident and did not make our decision lightly”.
He explained the “unprecedented sequence of events” that forced them not to return to the playing field and said that they did not make the “decision lightly”.
“A very long delay for the first concussion in which a player was knocked out cold for 10 minutes and was removed 20 minutes after the incident by ambulance, was followed by another injury which also required removal by ambulance 30 minutes later. Including the serious injuries the total delay in play was 54 minutes,” said Cross.
He added: “We now had insufficient coaches to cover our squad as some had to attend to the injured players.”
A statement from Munster rugby said that “The Munster Rugby Schools Committee and the Age Grade Competitions Group will consult with the match referee in reviewing the fixture”.