SANZAAR acknowledges concussion error in Crusaders' win over Reds

The Crusaders should not have had to play the final few minutes of their 22-12 victory over the Reds with just 14 men on the field, SANZAAR has confirmed.

The governing body on Monday issued a release saying the HIA protocols had been wrongly interpreted by a sideline official and that Richie Mo'unga should have been allowed to continue playing when he was directed from the field inside the final 10 minutes.

"SANZAAR has today confirmed that sideline match officials made an incorrect ruling towards the end of the Reds versus Crusaders match on Saturday 2nd March in Brisbane," the statement read.

"Crusader number 22, Mitchell Hunt, who had replaced fly-half Richie Mo'unga [tactical substitution], was removed from the field in the 71st minute due to evidence he had received a concussive incident. This determination removed the requirement for a HIA assessment as per HIA protocols.

"Hunt was then replaced by Mo'unga, despite Crusaders having used all their substitutions, as allowed by the same HIA protocols. Unfortunately a sideline official determined that as no HIA had been carried out Hunt was simply injured and therefore not allowed to be replaced. This lead to Mo'unga incorrectly being taken from the field at the 74 minute mark.

"SANZAAR is disappointed that the HIA protocols, introduced into the game as player welfare measure, were wrongly interpreted and is taking steps to ensure such incidents do not occur moving forward."

The Reds were able to score one try while the Crusaders were down to 14 men with Scott Higginbotham crossing with five minutes to play.

Fortunately, the Crusaders' lead remained out of reach for the Reds. But the visitors could certainly bemoan a lost bonus point opportunity when Higginbotham's try was awarded.