Rugby Head Injury Case

2

Comments

  • Dorset_Boy
    Dorset_Boy Posts: 7,146
    This stat gobsmacked me:
    There was an average of 257 tackles per game at the 2019 Rugby World Cup - 163 more per game than 1987

    https://theguardian.com/sport/2020/dec/08/steve-thompson-former-rugby-union-players-dementia-landmark-legal-case

    There's a lot of talk about trying to speed up the game to reduce the impact of bulk which would help, but that needs to be paired with reducing the number of subs, and referees enforcing more of the laws that are all too often ignored.
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,854
    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I only played amateur grassroots but as a centre back and I remember ringing in my ears after putting my head on long punts up field (along with a serious head injury sustained on a chain gang it does worry me). I run a womens team - women are more susceptible to concussion. I wouldn't object to a serious look at whether heading could be massively reduced but it'd face huge opposition due to the impact on the game. Even banning heading practice for kids has met with some opposition.

    Rugby seems an even tougher nut to crack - it always seemed a thuggish game to me
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • bompington
    bompington Posts: 7,674
    Jezyboy said:

    Limit player, pack, and squad weight. reduce it year on year to give those that have made themselves freaks of nature normal again. Perhaps adopt league rules instead of union.

    Might as well just say play touch rugby
    Limiting the pack/squad weight feels quite far away from touch rugby?
    I meant League >:)
  • Pross said:

    It will be interesting to see if Blazing Saddles has any comment on this as he has a player who has suffered several high profile head injuries in the family.

    I worry massively for him as he has been left on the pitch a number of times having clearly been knocked out, even when the protocols for removing a player from the pitch have been well established. I think he would be a player who could (successfully) bring a negligence case against the WRFU.

    I had been trying to neatly sidestep this thread, but it seems I got tackled.

    I suppose George, along with Johnny Sexton are the two players who's names have become synonymous with concussion in rugby.

    Sexton has been far more outspoken on the subject, going as far as to call it the "stigma of concussion".
    In the context of this thread, this is quite an interesting read:

    https://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/rugby/arid-20465547.html




    George tends to shrug much of the attention off and just wants to get on with playing.
    There have been occasions when he's failed his HIA but has been quick to let the family know he's actually OK.
    I did see him on the Sunday, after his had his second bad hit in succession during the Friday evening International against England back in 2015 and despite feeling fine on Saturday, was decidedly poorly that lunchtime.

    Obviously it is constantly lurking in the back of our minds each time he plays, each time he carries the ball and obviously each time he is in contact.

    For me, as mentioned up thread, the sport has changed out of all recognition since I first watched the sport, when the likes of Gareth Edwards and Barry John took to the park.
    Back then a big second row would tip the scales at about sixteen and a half stone and stand six three or four.
    Fast forward to 2010 and a long comes George, playing on the wing and being described as a "freak" for having pretty much those exact dimensions.
    Fast forward just another half decade and their are upwards of a dozen first class wingers who are as big or even bigger.
    Folks then talk about concussion effecting George's play, but I see this as the major factor.

    So why are we seeing such a trend of more enormous players coming into the sport?

    The fact of the matter is that the rules of the game have been changed to encourage faster, more open play, but instead these changes have led to a sport which more closely resembles NFL: static and collision dependent.

    Results? More severe, long term injuries and specifically more involving the head.

    Incidentally, I have to give George a shout out for this:

    https://www.walesonline.co.uk/sport/rugby/rugby-news/only-welshman-named-world-rugbys-19417215



    "Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,431

    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I have an issue with that. All reports have been from players in the 60s heading sodden leather footballs which are completely irrelevant today.
    If there has been a study done in the modern game then fair enough.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • nickice
    nickice Posts: 2,439
    pblakeney said:

    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I have an issue with that. All reports have been from players in the 60s heading sodden leather footballs which are completely irrelevant today.
    If there has been a study done in the modern game then fair enough.
    They can't perform a study for CTE as it can only be diagnosed after death and, since dementia is pretty common in later years it could be hard to attribute it to football. I've seen similar reports about there being a correlation between lots of physical activity and MND though I think it was physical activity that involved collision.
  • pblakeney said:

    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I have an issue with that. All reports have been from players in the 60s heading sodden leather footballs which are completely irrelevant today.
    If there has been a study done in the modern game then fair enough.
    That, and the prevalense to play out from the back rather than the goalkeeper drop kick it via the clouds has changed the game. Much of this change in play has been enabled through better pitches. You just have watch a few "big match" reruns on itv4 to see difference in pitch quality.
    For rugby, get the player weight down and get tougher on peds.
  • bompington
    bompington Posts: 7,674

    One of the things I have never understood about rugby is that you need to be a recognised specialist to play as a prop as there is a real danger from collapsed scrums. This seems sensible, but what do the specialist props do? Spend the whole time trying to collapse the scrum and get it blamed on the opposition.

    Heavyweight chess. We had such a lot of fun, and I'm sure I only knew a tiny fraction of the tricks the pros use.

  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 42,099
    nickice said:

    pblakeney said:

    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I have an issue with that. All reports have been from players in the 60s heading sodden leather footballs which are completely irrelevant today.
    If there has been a study done in the modern game then fair enough.
    They can't perform a study for CTE as it can only be diagnosed after death and, since dementia is pretty common in later years it could be hard to attribute it to football. I've seen similar reports about there being a correlation between lots of physical activity and MND though I think it was physical activity that involved collision.
    I was wondering about MND earlier with the recent spotlight on Doddie, Rob Burrow and Stephen Darby but wasn't sure if there is anything to suggest it is more prevalent amongst those involved in contact sports than the general populace.
  • bompington
    bompington Posts: 7,674
    johngti said:

    Limit player, pack, and squad weight. reduce it year on year to give those that have made themselves freaks of nature normal again. Perhaps adopt league rules instead of union.

    Might as well just say play touch rugby
    Not really. Limit subs for injuries, cut it to 4 subs per team and an hour in the big boys are knackered. More space = more fun!
    As explained above, that was in reference to the suggestion to just play League. And it was a joke, before any offended northerners start coming on here to go on about how much tougher League players are than Union's effete southern softies.

    In fact I tend to agree that de-bulking is the best possible solution. I like the suggestion to limit subs, it's really quite depressing watching England strangling the life out of the game for the first 50 minutes and then sending on a whole new pack to strangle it even harder for the rest of the game, but you'd just be back to the days when injuries were routinely faked to get your subs on.

    Only one query about de-bulking, and I don't know whether this is the case or not, but would it be any safer having two really strong, fast guys run headfirst into each other if they're 14 stone instead of 16?
  • Jezyboy
    Jezyboy Posts: 3,343

    Jezyboy said:

    Limit player, pack, and squad weight. reduce it year on year to give those that have made themselves freaks of nature normal again. Perhaps adopt league rules instead of union.

    Might as well just say play touch rugby
    Limiting the pack/squad weight feels quite far away from touch rugby?
    I meant League >:)
    As you were!
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 42,099
    I wonder if moving the offside line back to create a bit more space to move in would help but then it may just give a chance for a bigger head of steam to be worked up prior to going into contact and it is probably the contact around rucks that really needs looking at. I do think the issue is (belatedly?) being taken seriously with the HIA protocols that were brought in a few years back being gradually adopted by other sports and harsh punishment for even relatively minor and unintentional contact with the head.
  • morstar
    morstar Posts: 6,190

    FWIW the nfl which has big problems with concussion has limits on full contact practice, has ruled out various coaching practices and I think they limit the amount of concussions a player can have in a career - might be wrong here.

    Obviously the latter is fraught with conflicts of interest.

    It’s interesting to hear Jason Bell talking about coaching bearing in mind he is a fairly recent player.
    They were coached to go in head first to the body.

    As an aside, I reffed ice hockey for a decade or so. Because speed and potential for injury are much higher, much of the stuff other contact sports allow is outlawed and the sport is no worse for it. Players can get totally obliterated but you know a head injury will be either very unfortunate or heavily penalised. It’s not a common incidental injury.
    I watch modern rugby and it is insanely brutal for all the reasons already mentioned.
  • Jezyboy
    Jezyboy Posts: 3,343
    morstar said:

    FWIW the nfl which has big problems with concussion has limits on full contact practice, has ruled out various coaching practices and I think they limit the amount of concussions a player can have in a career - might be wrong here.

    Obviously the latter is fraught with conflicts of interest.

    It’s interesting to hear Jason Bell talking about coaching bearing in mind he is a fairly recent player.
    They were coached to go in head first to the body.

    As an aside, I reffed ice hockey for a decade or so. Because speed and potential for injury are much higher, much of the stuff other contact sports allow is outlawed and the sport is no worse for it. Players can get totally obliterated but you know a head injury will be either very unfortunate or heavily penalised. It’s not a common incidental injury.
    I watch modern rugby and it is insanely brutal for all the reasons already mentioned.
    Meh, one of the best hockey players seems to have spent half his career suffering post concussion syndrome.

  • rjsterry
    rjsterry Posts: 28,431

    johngti said:

    Limit player, pack, and squad weight. reduce it year on year to give those that have made themselves freaks of nature normal again. Perhaps adopt league rules instead of union.

    Might as well just say play touch rugby
    Not really. Limit subs for injuries, cut it to 4 subs per team and an hour in the big boys are knackered. More space = more fun!
    As explained above, that was in reference to the suggestion to just play League. And it was a joke, before any offended northerners start coming on here to go on about how much tougher League players are than Union's effete southern softies.

    In fact I tend to agree that de-bulking is the best possible solution. I like the suggestion to limit subs, it's really quite depressing watching England strangling the life out of the game for the first 50 minutes and then sending on a whole new pack to strangle it even harder for the rest of the game, but you'd just be back to the days when injuries were routinely faked to get your subs on.

    Only one query about de-bulking, and I don't know whether this is the case or not, but would it be any safer having two really strong, fast guys run headfirst into each other if they're 14 stone instead of 16?
    1/2mv^2, no? So a bit, but better if they slowed down.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Part of the anti-growth coalition
  • bompington
    bompington Posts: 7,674
    rjsterry said:

    1/2mv^2, no? So a bit, but better if they slowed down.

    Ah, the solution: sumo suits!
  • morstar
    morstar Posts: 6,190
    Jezyboy said:

    morstar said:

    FWIW the nfl which has big problems with concussion has limits on full contact practice, has ruled out various coaching practices and I think they limit the amount of concussions a player can have in a career - might be wrong here.

    Obviously the latter is fraught with conflicts of interest.

    It’s interesting to hear Jason Bell talking about coaching bearing in mind he is a fairly recent player.
    They were coached to go in head first to the body.

    As an aside, I reffed ice hockey for a decade or so. Because speed and potential for injury are much higher, much of the stuff other contact sports allow is outlawed and the sport is no worse for it. Players can get totally obliterated but you know a head injury will be either very unfortunate or heavily penalised. It’s not a common incidental injury.
    I watch modern rugby and it is insanely brutal for all the reasons already mentioned.
    Meh, one of the best hockey players seems to have spent half his career suffering post concussion syndrome.

    Not saying it can’t happen but the issues in ice hockey relate more to fighting which is not actually within the rules.
    You don’t get lots of head injuries playing although no doubt some will as it is a contact sport.
    Head contact is not part of normal play.
  • Dorset_Boy
    Dorset_Boy Posts: 7,146
    Pross said:

    I wonder if moving the offside line back to create a bit more space to move in would help but then it may just give a chance for a bigger head of steam to be worked up prior to going into contact and it is probably the contact around rucks that really needs looking at. I do think the issue is (belatedly?) being taken seriously with the HIA protocols that were brought in a few years back being gradually adopted by other sports and harsh punishment for even relatively minor and unintentional contact with the head.

    It would help if the offiside line as it is was enforced.
    On Sunday at most rucks, England's guards (the two props) we clearly stood in front of the back foot. In the Wales v England game the week before, the same was patently obvious for the Welsh guards and Alun Whinge Jones was warned on a few occassions. The refs should just card them for repeated infringements after say the second warning, and the offiside line at a ruck is really easy for a touch judge to police.
  • bompington
    bompington Posts: 7,674
    morstar said:

    the issues in ice hockey relate more to fighting which is not actually within the rules.

    could have fooled me :)
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,418
    edited December 2020
    Have to say, my experience of rugby is heavily coloured by school: forcing all teenage boys to play a contact sport where size makes a huge difference in hindsight is ridiculous (spot who was the featherweight at school)

    Doubly so at a state school where no-one gives a sh!t about rugby anyway, so they use it as a excuse to literally kick each other senseless when the teacher was explaining how a scrum works to a bunch kids who really don't want to be there.

    At least with football or basketball everyone had a basic understanding of what was going on and what you were meant to do.
  • DeVlaeminck
    DeVlaeminck Posts: 8,854
    pblakeney said:

    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I have an issue with that. All reports have been from players in the 60s heading sodden leather footballs which are completely irrelevant today.
    If there has been a study done in the modern game then fair enough.
    True but modern footballs aren't any lighter than the old balls except when as you say, they absorbed water.

    Modern balls fly faster than old fashioned balls - professional level balls are noticeably faster than a £15 grassroots match ball. Increased speed creates a greater impact.

    So yes there is a caveat to whether modern footballs would cause the same damage but I do think the argument that old fashioned balls were more harmful is overplayed.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • TheBigBean
    TheBigBean Posts: 21,107

    One of the things I have never understood about rugby is that you need to be a recognised specialist to play as a prop as there is a real danger from collapsed scrums. This seems sensible, but what do the specialist props do? Spend the whole time trying to collapse the scrum and get it blamed on the opposition.

    Heavyweight chess. We had such a lot of fun, and I'm sure I only knew a tiny fraction of the tricks the pros use.

    I'm just a casual viewer with no real knowledge of the game. I just don't understand why there isn't a dedicated scrum referee who is a former prop and comes on to watch the side the ref is not on.


  • johngti
    johngti Posts: 2,508


    In fact I tend to agree that de-bulking is the best possible solution. I like the suggestion to limit subs, it's really quite depressing watching England strangling the life out of the game for the first 50 minutes and then sending on a whole new pack to strangle it even harder for the rest of the game, but you'd just be back to the days when injuries were routinely faked to get your subs on.

    There’s always the danger of faked injuries that’s true but with only four subs, would that matter?

    Personally I’d want to make it worthwhile to compete at rucks in some way. Not sure how, maybe reffing the current laws properly would be a start. I hate seeing players arriving at speed and basically diving over the ball knowing full well that they won’t be penalised and the team will be able to recycle (most of the time). There’s no benefit for the defending team to compete so you end up with 13-14 players spread across the pitch. Takes away all enjoyment, wingers spend most of their time chasing kicks is just dull.

    Admittedly, I’m a Welsh rugby fan so I’m used to disappointment but the latest set of games were dire.
  • morstar
    morstar Posts: 6,190

    morstar said:

    the issues in ice hockey relate more to fighting which is not actually within the rules.

    could have fooled me :)
    Well yes.

    It is part of the ‘entertainment’ but is penalised within the rules.

    The fact the penalties are pretty minor where both combatants are willing is besides the point, it is still not in the rules.

    TBH, I wonder how long it can last given the mental health issues and concussion problems associated with the ‘enforcer’ role but I’ve been thinking that for years.

    The lawsuit has to come eventually.

    Anyhow, leave it to the rugby guys. I was simply trying to contrast exactly how brutal rugby is given my own frame of reference. Ice hockey is pretty brutal but in a relatively controlled environment. Rugby is far less controlled.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,431

    pblakeney said:

    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I have an issue with that. All reports have been from players in the 60s heading sodden leather footballs which are completely irrelevant today.
    If there has been a study done in the modern game then fair enough.
    True but modern footballs aren't any lighter than the old balls except when as you say, they absorbed water.

    Modern balls fly faster than old fashioned balls - professional level balls are noticeably faster than a £15 grassroots match ball. Increased speed creates a greater impact.

    So yes there is a caveat to whether modern footballs would cause the same damage but I do think the argument that old fashioned balls were more harmful is overplayed.
    I'm guessing that you never headed a sodden leather ball then. Football is generally played in winter. The ball generally got wet.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • TheBigBean
    TheBigBean Posts: 21,107
    pblakeney said:

    pblakeney said:

    Im not sure there are answers for some sports - not answers that won't outrage a majority of followers anyway. My sport is football - I don't mind calling it soccer in a rugby thread - in soccer heading a football is linked to similar brain damage as we all now know.

    I have an issue with that. All reports have been from players in the 60s heading sodden leather footballs which are completely irrelevant today.
    If there has been a study done in the modern game then fair enough.
    True but modern footballs aren't any lighter than the old balls except when as you say, they absorbed water.

    Modern balls fly faster than old fashioned balls - professional level balls are noticeably faster than a £15 grassroots match ball. Increased speed creates a greater impact.

    So yes there is a caveat to whether modern footballs would cause the same damage but I do think the argument that old fashioned balls were more harmful is overplayed.
    I'm guessing that you never headed a sodden leather ball then. Football is generally played in winter. The ball generally got wet.
    If you head a big rock it will hurt more, but how fast can you kick a big rock? If people kick as hard now as they did before, then the ball will have be given the same kinetic energy, so the impact would largely be the same*

    *This ignores air resistance, but whatever.
  • pblakeney
    pblakeney Posts: 26,431
    Yeah, I'll leave it.
    Lasting memory of taking up football again in the 80s to play for a work's team, getting hit in the face and being perplexed as to why it didn't hurt as much as expected. Whatever.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • I was a keen, but far from brilliant, rugby player at school (one of those schools disparagingly called "minor public schools") and I suffered occasionally as a 12 stone loosehead - I remember one particularly grim game when I came up against an England U16 prop who weighed something like 16 stone. We trained pretty hard and I was really strong - 17½ neck, complete with proper neck strengthening exercises, and I could do 100 press-ups in just over a minute.

    But I would have looked like a particularly scrawny scrum half these days, wouldn't I?

    Minor injuries were common, concussion happened a bit, though never to me. The worst injury I ever got has left a still-visible scar - around my left nipple, after my opposing tight head decided to try a nipple-cripple on me.
    Strangely enough he had to leave the field with a sore neck soon after*.

    Watching on TV still brings out a feeling like nothing else - getting on for 40 years since I played seriously and still I can't forget the adrenaline.

    None of my kids have ever shown any interest in Rugby but if they were - especially if they looked at all likely to reach pro level - I think I would have tried very, very hard to dissuade them.

    I love watching modern rugby, the sheer speed and power (although currently improved defensive tactics have strangled an awful lot of the fun) but it really looks unsustainable. I know that various ideas have been suggested, mainly with the aim of reducing bulk, but I don't think I've seen any that look likely to work.

    You have to wonder what the future holds for Rugby :(


    *Without exception, the only time in my life I have ever actually tried to hurt someone. And it was (almost entirely) achieved within the rules of the game.

    Never played but enjoy watching and go to the local Championship club a few times per season. I feel the same way I do watching boxing - I enjoy it and tell myself it's their choice, but would I want my child to play it when he grows up? no way.

    My FIL played a good level in late 70s / early 80s - he was 2nd row / flanker I think - 6ft2 at 18 and all that. Never set foot in the gym and trained once / twice a week. Totally different game now.
  • Have to say, my experience of rugby is heavily coloured by school: forcing all teenage boys to play a contact sport where size makes a huge difference in hindsight is ridiculous (spot who was the featherweight at school)

    Doubly so at a state school where no-one gives a sh!t about rugby anyway, so they use it as a excuse to literally kick each other senseless when the teacher was explaining how a scrum works to a bunch kids who really don't want to be there.

    At least with football or basketball everyone had a basic understanding of what was going on and what you were meant to do.

    Quite. Our PE teacher at 14/15 had us do league rules instead (up north etc) which was better as the fat kid who'd flattened you had to let go straight away. As a keen runner (of typical runner build) I used the lesson as a sprint work out trying to stay out the way...
  • rick_chasey
    rick_chasey Posts: 74,418

    Have to say, my experience of rugby is heavily coloured by school: forcing all teenage boys to play a contact sport where size makes a huge difference in hindsight is ridiculous (spot who was the featherweight at school)

    Doubly so at a state school where no-one gives a sh!t about rugby anyway, so they use it as a excuse to literally kick each other senseless when the teacher was explaining how a scrum works to a bunch kids who really don't want to be there.

    At least with football or basketball everyone had a basic understanding of what was going on and what you were meant to do.

    Quite. Our PE teacher at 14/15 had us do league rules instead (up north etc) which was better as the fat kid who'd flattened you had to let go straight away. As a keen runner (of typical runner build) I used the lesson as a sprint work out trying to stay out the way...
    Meh I just stood offside as often as i could