6 Nations Betting: North injury fuss could give Gatland another knockout blow

George North goes off for treatment - amazingly he was allowed back on
George North goes off for treatment - amazingly he was allowed back on

Wales are caught up in a World Rugby investigation into why star winger George North was allowed to play on after getting concussed. Ralph Ellis says that's good news for an improving Scotland team...

"Scotland showed in Paris that they have a new edge about their play, comfortably landing my tip for them to beat France with a 10.5 points handicap. Vern Cotter’s side could well cause an upset, and are certainly worth backing at 2.01/1 with a 3.5 point handicap."

Rugby has taken pride for many years in how it has been at the cutting edge of sports technology. From the moment they invented video analysis software, there have been people poring over laptops working out details of tactics, strengths, weaknesses and kicking techniques.

Every time you watch a game the TV cameras constantly cut to banks of coaching staff high up in the stands, all wired up with walkie-talkies and intently studying their computers. Wales coach Warren Gatland, for instance, appeared to be surrounded at the Millenium Stadium on Friday night by about a dozen boffins all glued to the screens in front of them.

It seems, however, they were all either watching Coronation Street on the other side or playing Candy Crush because incredibly nobody seems to have seen George North twice getting knocked out. The giant winger whose powerful running is so vital to Gatland's team is at the centre of a World Rugby investigation into how he was allowed to complete the game after a couple of sickening blows to the head.

The defence of the Welsh medical team into why they kept patching him up and sending him back on would do Arsene Wenger proud. This is Prav Mathema, the team's medical manager: "Regrettably I was unsighted at the time of the incident. The other pitch side medic was also unsighted." Meanwhile the private briefing is that the analysts were all busy studying a previous incident.

Now of course there are famous stories around concussion in sport. Ron Atkinson always loved to tell the tale of being informed by his physio that one of his Manchester United players had been knocked out and didn't know who he was. "Tell him he's Pele and send him back on," was Big Ron's response.

In this age, however, we should be more aware that it is no laughing matter and in a furious contact sport like rugby it should be especially an area to follow greater care and guidelines.

That is why the fuss around the George North injury will not go away, however much the old school officials might prefer it to do so - and however hard the Wales PR people tried to play it all down by sending North to a sponsor's function in Cardiff yesterday.

All of that will make Gatland's preparation for Sunday's trip to face Scotland far more complicated and the Welsh, who had seen themselves as potential Six Nations winners, are suddenly under some serious pressure.

They are 1.664/6 to win at Murrayfield, but it will not be as simple as that. Scotland showed in Paris that they have a new edge about their play, comfortably landing my tip for them to beat France with a 10.5 points handicap. Vern Cotter's side could well cause an upset, and are certainly worth backing at 2.01/1 with a 3.5 point handicap.

The signs are that North won't be involved after suffering what were literally two knock out blows. Defeat in Scotland would, for Gatland and his army of staff, would feel like two figurative kicks in the teeth.

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