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Concussions and Protecting Our Players

PhilClinton

Jim Lenehan (48)
Don't think rugby or any contact sport will be around in 30-40 years in the Western World the way we are going.

I have some familial ties to ‘Men of League Foundation’ board members. They essentially raise money for post-career player welfare for NRL players (among other things).

Their predicted timeline for the removal of contact sport in Australia is closer to 20 years. It’s one of the reasons the NRL was making a big push on 9’s for a couple of years. Less players on the field and more space = less collisions. They’re looking at alternatives already to the traditional game.
 

stillmissit

Vay Wilson (31)
Love how your contribution on this page started with a personal anecdote of being kicked in the head to point of losing vision and memory, then going on a rant about how there's only anecdotal and circumstantial data to support arguments in favour of protecting players.

I'd say we're all on the same page here - long term viability of rugby is essential. But we have to move with the times and a big part of that is addressing the duty of care to its participants.

Does anyone really look at footage of old games with players being punched and stomped senseless and think 'ahh yes, the good old days!'.

The funniest thing about that whole angle is that the old fat thugs who made names for themselves as "hard men" wouldn't last 20 minutes on a pitch in 2022. Players are about 15kg heavier, faster, fitter and stronger. The collisions they deal with are, as my orthopaedic surgeon (Irish bloke who works as staff medico for Rebels and Wallabies games in Melbourne) artfully phrased it 'In the same ballpark as car crash victims'.
So what is your point? I post something about my own experience yet I've lived a good life and worked in demanding jobs. It's true I dislike science that is supported by anecdotes and poor data.
If you think that car crashes of big fast guys is going to be around in 30-40 years based on making the game into tiddly winks then I think you are deluding yourself. Your othopeadic surgeon is one of the many who will over the years stop any contact sport, your anecdote puts the writing on the wall.
In the west we are focused on making our lives safer and less prone to risk, the end result of that ensures we will be incapable of taking risks or accepting the advantages of a game like rugby union, which incidentally, took me from a rough working-class kid into what I became, with a lot of encouragement from good people I played rugby with.
 

liquor box

John Thornett (49)
Neuroscientist DR (Dave Rennie) Chris Nowinski, a former college American football player turned professional wrestler
Any wrestling fans remember him? I still chuckle to myself that he is an expert, good on him but when I think of wrestlers I dont think of Neuroscientists.
Nowinski.JPG
 

KevinO

Peter Sullivan (51)
I'm curious whether GARG members and posters in this thread would reconsider their approach to rugby, knowing what they do now about the risks of head injuries and CTE?

Admitting that 15yo me knew "far more" than I do now, particularly around things like personal risk, I'd be very cautious about playing the game. I don't have kids but would probably be steering them towards non-contact sports.

It's a tough call as I loved every minute of playing rugby, but as an adult with a finer appreciation of health and longevity, my risk aversion is a lot stronger.
If my kids choose to play rugby, I'm happy with it. Coaching is progressing fast enough that I am sure all involved with any team will be aware of the risks and teach proper methods. Yes, accidents happen, but they happen in all sports.

Personally I have had a lot more injuries, including being knocked out more on the hockey pitch then rugby pitch. And Hockey is meant to be the non contact.
 

Tex

John Thornett (49)
Anyone that can watch that interview with Michael Lipman and come away with a view that we must preserve rugby as it is currently played is missing the point, and arguably is doing more to damn the sport to obsolescence.

The writing is on the wall - rugby and other contact sports are responsible for prematurely ending the lives of many of their participants.
 

LeCheese

Vay Wilson (31)
If my kids choose to play rugby, I'm happy with it. Coaching is progressing fast enough that I am sure all involved with any team will be aware of the risks and teach proper methods. Yes, accidents happen, but they happen in all sports.

Personally I have had a lot more injuries, including being knocked out more on the hockey pitch then rugby pitch. And Hockey is meant to be the non contact.
The unfortunate accidents/injuries aren't the issue for CTE though; it's the routine, mundane tackles and collisions – i.e. a 'fundamental' element of sports like rugby – that are the issue, which is why it's such a conflicting situation.
 

stillmissit

Vay Wilson (31)
I don't see how anyone's going to ban rugby etc without first banning MMA & I don't see that happening any time soon as there's just too much money involved.
I struggle to see any structure or plan in terms of what is banned and what is allowed. I think it depends on whatever the hot topic is atm.
Could be us could be MMA? could be anything bar soccer as half the world would go crazy...
 

Rob42

Arch Winning (36)
I am a little worried about proposals to ban tackling until 13 yo, or thereabouts. Having players first learning to tackle at 13 years old means they are much larger than 7-8 year olds, who are currently the first to tackle. A much greater chance to get it wrong and cop a serious blow at that older age. And at 7-8 yo, almost all tackles are made by players running in the same direction, having no more than about 1 metre run-up, given that players at that age just form a bunch and all follow the ball. Very low impacts, and lots of tackling practise by the time they're 13 yo.

Playing touch footy until 13 yo also limits the value of the game for the future front-rower. They don't enjoy the touch footy game so much. Watching my son's bulkier team-mates discover their value in a physical contact game, as they changed from U7 touch footy to U8 tackle rugby, is actually one of my best memories of the game.

Of course we need to protect the brain, but let's not be guided by experts in American football, and let's make sure we consider the unintended consequences.
 

LeCheese

Vay Wilson (31)
I am a little worried about proposals to ban tackling until 13 yo, or thereabouts. Having players first learning to tackle at 13 years old means they are much larger than 7-8 year olds, who are currently the first to tackle. A much greater chance to get it wrong and cop a serious blow at that older age. And at 7-8 yo, almost all tackles are made by players running in the same direction, having no more than about 1 metre run-up, given that players at that age just form a bunch and all follow the ball. Very low impacts, and lots of tackling practise by the time they're 13 yo.

Playing touch footy until 13 yo also limits the value of the game for the future front-rower. They don't enjoy the touch footy game so much. Watching my son's bulkier team-mates discover their value in a physical contact game, as they changed from U7 touch footy to U8 tackle rugby, is actually one of my best memories of the game.

Of course we need to protect the brain, but let's not be guided by experts in American football, and let's make sure we consider the unintended consequences.
While I agree with this point, it's already the case that a large number of players are learning the basics for the first time at 11/12/13 during their first year (or even later) at high school.
 

LeCheese

Vay Wilson (31)
It's been confirmed by Paul Green's family that he was suffering from advanced CTE. Another tragic instance to add to the list.

Again, it's worth praising his family for donating his brain, and the Australian Sports Brain Bank for the work that they do.
 

Braveheart81

James Horwill (77)
Staff member
The US National Institute of Health has acknowledged a causal link between repeated blows to the head and CTE. Obviously this is what everyone already thought but this is still a pretty big step forward.

 

PhilClinton

Jim Lenehan (48)
Dan posted this in the referee's thread, and I said something similar to the below:

I'm not sure it's a great long-term solution, seems a bit convoluted. First player to go lower but second and subsequent players can go higher. Lots of moving parts in terms of players knowing their role as first or second tackler within a split second, and also reliance on the ref to adjudicate those roles.

What happens in situations close to the line where players are lowering their body height and running into multiple defenders at the same time? Will the 'pillar' of the ruck be penalised for dragging a player down by their shoulders as sometimes happens? Common sense says no, but the rules say yes.

Will be interesting to see the results of the trial.
 

Derpus

David Wilson (68)
^^^
WR (World Rugby) have said they will be wheeling this out all-round. And lowering the tackle height for the professional game (but not as low).

Hard to say whether it is the right decision in terms of safety. I assume its science based but also wouldn't be surprised if it was driven simply by the fear of litigation.

Hard to see this not making the game much worse from a spectator perspective, though. Particularly during the transitional period where players are getting pinged every second tackle.
 

Braveheart81

James Horwill (77)
Staff member
Hard to see this not making the game much worse from a spectator perspective, though. Particularly during the transitional period where players are getting pinged every second tackle.

I really don't think that's going to be the case.

It creates some leeway between a legal tackle and a potential red card offence whereas currently that threshold is minute.

The new framework seems to be that a tackle at the sternum will be a penalty offence and higher than that is probably a card. The waist is pretty much the belly button so isn't nearly as low as some people are thinking.

At the community level at least I don't think you're going to see referees trying to penalise a tackle as soon as it might be a cm or two above the waist. There's leeway there where it isn't dangerous.

If this eventually comes into the elite game it should largely do away with watching a dozen replays and listening to the TMO and referee debate whether or not something is entirely legal or a red card. There should be a clear distinction between what is just play on and what constitutes a dangerous tackle which doesn't exist now.
 
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