BLOG BY @princessmaire1
As a Sports Science degree student, this is one of the subjects I have chosen to concentrate on researching as part of my degree and one I feel very strongly about. The reason behind this is because I have seen first hand the effects of concussion on a player- at the club which I support a few years ago there was a player forced to retire due to a brain injury obtained through constant concussions and another, a player who I sponsored, was forced to retire at the age of just 24 followingprolonged difficulties arising from concussion. This was at a professional club howeverand yes to some extent those at pro clubs are lucky enough to have access to expert medical care and support but concussion isn’t just a problem related to the pro game- it is an issue at every level.
Just some statistics- concussion was the highest reported injury for the sixth successive season in 2016-17, with 20.9 concussions per 1,000 hours of match play (source bbc.co.uk). This is said to be higher than in heavy contact sports such as boxing although figures are inconsistent. This is a horrifying statistic- when you look at those who wouldn’t consider doing boxing as a result of the likely head trauma but would happily take to the rugby field it’s fairly obvious that few people would consider rugby just as dangerous as boxing. While I was researching this piece I came across an article about five young people who had actually died shortly after a head trauma on the rugby field. This again shows the gulf between the pro and amateur games and the devastating effect it can have. Whilst there have been some unwise decisions in the pro game- the recent George North debacle which highlighted the fact that some players are being pressured to play on when they should not be- the immediate medical attention and follow up care is there for them. The amateur game does not have this so something needs to change to stop this happening.
So what’s the solution? There has been many suggestions made, from banning children from playing anything other than tag or touch rugby with no contact at all, up to banning contact training sessions for professionals. Rugby is by its nature a contact sport and its extremely difficult to come up with a solution that will eradicate this type of injury in full without completely wrecking the game as we know and love it. As a retired nurse, I am perhaps more sensitised to the impact ofinjuries than most although as a sponsor of front row players for the last four seasons I tend to be very sensitive to the impact of certain moves anyway! There’s no one magic solution to the concussion problem although there is certainly a lot of opinion on it. For now the numbers keep rising but hopefully at some stage someone will find some sort of solution to the very sad trend in our beloved game.