Concussion trumps Covid as Rugby League’s biggest problem

League Express editor MARTYN SADLER considers the implications of concussion studies on the future development of Rugby League


Ultimately, I’m certain that we will overcome the threat of Covid, but the threat of concussion is a far more serious one, particularly given what we now know about the long-term effects of serious repeated head injuries.

The RFL announced last week that the new stand down period for players who leave the field during a game and fail a head-injury assessment will be eleven days.

That means that from now on in most cases, players who fail HIAs will miss their club’s next game, whereas until now a player suffering a head knock on a Friday night could play in his club’s next match if it took place on a Saturday or Sunday just over a week later.

That always seemed wrong to me and I’m glad the RFL has now amended the rule.

Tests are now taking place involving the use of sensitive mouthguards that can transmit information about the impact of tackles on the heads of players.

We have yet to hear of any conclusive results from those tests, but it is likely they will report significant forces impacting on players.

The worrying thing for me is that they might suggest that many tackles are in fact potentially dangerous for Rugby League players, given the nature of the forces they experience during a game.

And where would we go from there?

Most players, in my experience, understand the risks involved in playing Rugby League and they are prepared to live with them, as they always have done.

Nonetheless, the game could be forced into reconsidering its rules to lessen the impact of some of the heavier collisions.

Perhaps we should be thinking about that now.