Edinburgh 20-14 Saracens: Jamie George concussion blow for England
Edinburgh 20-14 Saracens: Jamie George blow for England after hooker suffers a suspected concussion – with injured duo Elliot Daly and Mako Vunipola also doubtful for Six Nations
- George went too high on Edinburgh’s Luke Crosbie in first-half and was flattened
- The hooker was sent to the sin bin but returned after a head injury assessment
- He was removed at half-time after independent matchday doctor stepped in
Jamie George was at the centre of a head injury storm as Saracens were beaten up in Edinburgh and new England head coach Steve Borthwick suffered a triple Six Nations injury scare.
Hooker George and his England team-mate Elliot Daly were both forced off and another member of Borthwick’s squad in Mako Vunipola was also a late withdrawal before kick-off.
This was a horror evening for both Saracens and Borthwick and the latter may now be without three of his most experienced players for his first game in charge against Scotland on February 4.
Jamie George was at the centre of a head injury storm as Saracens were beaten by Edinburgh
Tries: Cherry, Schoeman
Cons: Kinghorn (2)
Pens: Kinghorn (2)
Pens: Goode (3)
Referee: Ludovic Cayre (France)
Star man: Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh)
Vunipola (foot) and Daly (hamstring) both took knocks, but it was the treatment of George which was the game’s big talking point.
The experienced forward went too high on impressive Edinburgh flanker Luke Crosbie in the first half and was flattened. George was simultaneously shown a yellow card and sent for a head injury assessment before somewhat surprisingly returning to the field once he had served 10 minutes in the sin bin. George played out the rest of the opening 40 minutes.
But he was removed from the fray at the break after the independent matchday doctor stepped in and told Saracens he could not carry on. It once again brought into question rugby’s management of head injuries at the highest level.
Given the matchday doctor judged George to be showing signs of a concussion, he will now have to go through a mandatory stand-down period of a minimum of 12 days.
George went too high on Edinburgh flanker Luke Crosbie in the first half and was flattened
Even if George passes rugby’s return-to-play protocols, he will have to have a full 12-day break which would mean he’d be back available for Borthwick on the eve of the Scotland match.
But such a scenario would mean George would be unlikely to run out at Twickenham. Luke Cowan-Dickie’s ankle problem means Borthwick now has a real hooking issue.
Uncapped pair George McGuigan and Jack Walker are the other hookers in the current England squad.
Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall said: ‘Jamie was a concussion but I don’t know exactly what happened. It appears Jamie passed his HIA and someone has had a further look at it and thought it better he were withdrawn from the game. Of course, that’s the right decision.
‘Mako had a foot problem in the warm-up. We lost our whole front row before half time. Elliot was a slight hamstring strain. I’m not sure how serious it is.’
Saracens and England back Elliot Daly was forced off by a slight hamstring strain
All in all, this was a disastrous match for anyone of an English persuasion. George could also be facing a ban, if the citing officer believes his high shot on Crosbie was worthy of red not yellow.
The only saving grace for Saracens, who were without the banned Owen Farrell, was they secured a Champions Cup knock-out spot despite defeat.
They will host Welsh side Ospreys in the last 16. Edinburgh will travel to Leicester.
In essence, this was a Calcutta Cup warm-up and in front of watching Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend, the English side wilted. Saracens were outpowered. Their discipline was shocking.
George, Marco Riccioni and Maro Itoje all spent time in the sin bin on a rare Saracens off day.
Saracens secured a Champions Cup knock-out spot despite the defeat on Sunday
‘I’m really disappointed with the performance,’ McCall added. ‘We started really poorly. I’m not sure why we were so passive defensively. It wasn’t like us.’
Edinburgh raced into an early 10-0 lead, Dave Cherry crashing over and Blair Kinghorn converting and kicking a penalty. Then came yellows for George and Riccioni. The latter did not return from his HIA after his high hit on Grant Gilchrist. Riccioni could also have seen red.
Saracens were blown away in the first half yet somehow only trailed 10-6 at the break, with Alex Goode kicking two penalties. George didn’t appear for the second half and Daly soon followed him to the sidelines. Scotland and Edinburgh captain Jamie Ritchie had a try ruled out before the break.
But his team were dominant, mainly thanks to outstanding forward pair Crosbie and Pierre Schoeman. Kinghorn and Goode swapped successful kicks with some poor misses.
But Schoeman smashed his way over and there was still time for two more yellow cards to Edinburgh lock Sam Skinner and his opposite number Itoje. Ben Earl grabbed a late consolation try for Saracens which means they will be on home turf in the knock-outs. Edinburgh could have been too, but Henry Pyrgos kicked the ball dead instead of going for another try.
‘We wanted them to kick it off,’ said Edinburgh head coach Mike Blair, who felt both George and Riccioni could have been shown red. ‘We would have loved a home game, but we made that call.’
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