An Auckland 1st XV rugby player who was knocked out in a match on Saturday lay unconscious at the side of the pitch for up to 40 minutes before an ambulance arrived, eyewitnesses say.
The long wait for medical treatment for the Liston College player has prompted some supporters to call for ambulance or medical staff to be present at all top-level schoolboy matches.
The Liston player was injured 15 minutes into the game against home team St Kentigern College.
"At halftime they were still waiting for an ambulance," said a St Kentigern supporter, who asked not to be named.
"I would estimate the ambulance took 35 to 40 minutes to get there. The boy was unconscious, from what I understand, the whole time. He was lying prone on the sideline with about 10 people standing around him.
"It was concerning. Normally someone is unconscious for a minute, a few seconds… but for someone to be unconscious for at least half an hour or so, and he was still unconscious when the ambulance left apparently."
The eyewitness said that in the past a St John staff member had been pitchside for all 1st XV games, and he believed the policy should be reinstated.
"When you're talking about the top level of rugby, when you've got the hard-hitting tackling going on, you'd think they'd have an ambulance on the premises."
Liston principal Christopher Rooney, who was at the game, confirmed that the boy had been concussed when attempting to tackle a St Kentigern player.
"He received immediate medical assistance and an ambulance was called. It arrived approximately 30 minutes later."
The players was taken to Middlemore Hospital, accompanied by the team's manager. Faced with a six-hour wait time, they drove to Waitakere Hospital, where he was discharged at 10pm, Rooney said.
The boy had returned to school on Monday morning.
The Herald has also requested comment from St Kentigern.
Kevin Harnett, St John territory manager for East Auckland, confirmed a person was transported in a moderate condition to Middlemore Hospital on Saturday.
St John had been called at 2.47pm and had arrived at 3.14pm, he said. The delay had been due to a triage system which prioritised life-threatening and critical injuries.
"The emergency call handler assessed that the patient was not in any immediate danger.
"Available ambulances in the area were attending patients requiring an urgent response and an ambulance was sent from Manukau once it became free."
An Auckland Rugby spokesman said Air Ambulance provided medical support at festival rugby events and representative games, but it was not possible to have a similar service at all 1st XV games.
"Like many other community-based sports, we would all value having an ambulance at all facilities and community fixtures.
"However, there is a huge demand of this extremely valuable medical resource."
The spokesman said most, if not all, 1st XV sides had their own physiotherapists or medical staff.
St John national event health services manager Simon Barnett said: "St John has and continues to be contracted by several secondary schools in Auckland to provide medical cover at 1st XV rugby games.
"St John can provide medical cover at multiple sports matches on a given day. The cost of hiring an event medical crew depends on a few factors including the size of the event and duration, however, the minimum for a three-hour period of medical cover is $300 (exclusive of GST). This includes staff, equipment and consumables."
All secondary school and senior rugby coaches were also required to complete the ACC-funded RugbySmart programme, which trained participants in identifying and managing head injuries.