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Sports stars suing for brain damage - effect on RL?


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19 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

I'm talking about preventing the need for a HIA in the first place by penalising contact with the head etc.

I know that Tommy, but a sport that looks at all avenues will be in a far better position.

Having said that penalising not be a raving success at preventing headshots, as it?

There seem to be far less than when the never used to bother but still far too many.

 

 

 

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Not being a close follower of Union i don't really know where the knocks to the head would really come from, compared to Rugby League, where the vast majority if not all would have come from bad tackles above the shoulder.

As union doesn't have as many tackles during a game, and with the majority of tackles being legs tackles (AFAIK), where would the impact be, in scrums? rucks maybe? Maybe all those head down drives from the base of the ruck that union props seem to do?

maybe someone with some more knowledge of the game can shed some light.

RL definitely has something to worry about though, it's only going to take one player.
For some time i've felt the disciplinary on high tackles should be far greater than it is.

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Like most others on here, I don't know the position legally. Although I very much doubt that the RFU would want to risk this going before a Court. I suspect a negotiated settlement is the most likely outcome.

Should we worry about similar claims? Yes. We are at risk of similar action with potentially large liability for compensation payments and legal fees.

Whilst we should be doing it anyway, it re-emphasises the need to take preventive action.

We have made good progress by putting in place detailed concussion protocols. But we can do more. Significant point deductions for breaches of the policy for example.

Secondly, and I include myself in this, we should stop lauding players playing with serious injuries. I accept it is hard for protocols to be put in place regarding this.

You cannot prevent head injuries in a sport like rugby league. But you can punish attacks to the head and ensure protocols are stringent.

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This has been bubbling up for a few years now. Even if this lawsuit is initially a RU thing, it will have repercussions in every collision sport, including Rugby League.

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4 hours ago, Eddie said:

Who can they sue? It’s their choice to play and nobody else’s. 

Employers.  

I am not sure how it stands though for time before a claim has to be made.  Some diseases caused through employment are not normally given a set term before claim, as they can manifest themselves at different times.

 

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35 minutes ago, Chris22 said:

Slightly off the point, but how do boxing and UFC avoid such actions, where the objective of the sport is to attack the head?

Wonder if it's because that is the explicit purpose of the sport, and it isn't in rugby?

There are likely three reasons for the comparative protection of those 2 sports. 

1. The structure of them sees them less as employees

2. The assumption of risk. Its pretty explicit you will get hit on the head

3. The licensing process for pro combat sports.

I think it provides an illuminating comparison as it highlights the issue isn't risk elimination but risk management and mitigation.

People might see this kind of issue as a threat to the game but it isn't really. We will just see the game become safer. That will mean more sterile and less visceral but still recognisable. 

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44 minutes ago, Chris22 said:

Like most others on here, I don't know the position legally. Although I very much doubt that the RFU would want to risk this going before a Court. I suspect a negotiated settlement is the most likely outcome.

Should we worry about similar claims? Yes. We are at risk of similar action with potentially large liability for compensation payments and legal fees.

Whilst we should be doing it anyway, it re-emphasises the need to take preventive action.

We have made good progress by putting in place detailed concussion protocols. But we can do more. Significant point deductions for breaches of the policy for example.

Secondly, and I include myself in this, we should stop lauding players playing with serious injuries. I accept it is hard for protocols to be put in place regarding this.

You cannot prevent head injuries in a sport like rugby league. But you can punish attacks to the head and ensure protocols are stringent.

I think this is a key point.  If you are doing something to prevent injury, can demonstrate it and prove you are doing sufficiently, then that would help.  I am not a Lawyer but imo there is a big difference between a) someone playing a game knowing the risk and b) someone being made to play/choosing to play when increased risk is known.

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Didn't Shontayne Hape retire with head issues ? I recall hime saying players cheated on the pre season tests so if they were injured it was easier to pass the tests.

We also have players like Luke Robinson talking about the problems he has experienced.

The employer has a duty of care I think we have got better, no longer see players with jelly legs carrying on. We still have a long way to go but we are trying. 

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4 hours ago, Scotchy1 said:

There is an reasonable assumption of risk that is put on the player. That is they can reasonably assume a certain level of risk in playing RL professionally and that pretty much absolves the game as in the clubs and governing bodies from that risk.

The question posed is, is it a reasonable assumption of risk that a player will suffer these injuries as part of the game. I think that is a difficult case to make. Nobody really expects these injuries.

If governing bodies knew about this risk and did nothing about it. Its an impossible case to make

That's how I would see it as well. 

You can't just say "you step on the field, you know the risks" as some sort of get out of jail free card. People willingly took jobs in buildings full of asbestos but they couldn't have expected to start dying from mesothelioma as a result of it. 

Definitely worrying for the game on many levels. 

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4 hours ago, Cheshire Setter said:

I agree but there is enough there for some major law firms to take it up with the RFU.

Obviously there is the duty of care issue with high tackles and head contact, which the RFL is acting on, but the bigger issue is preventing damage to the brain from the secondary effects of a big collision like whiplash etc. This is much more significant in RL than RU. Do we get professionals to sign a waiver going forward? Or does the tackling technique have to change? 

Compared to Rugby Union which has outlawed any contact above the shoulders,  RL has barely taken any action. There is frequent contact with the head in RL with only the worst offences being penalised and very rare sending offs. RL needs to wake up. High tackles, neck grappling, sticking your head into your opponent on the floor happen in every game. In theory, they could be penalties, in practice they aren't. It is an open goal for the lawyers.

Edited by Wakefield Ram
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2 hours ago, EastLondonMike said:

Not being a close follower of Union i don't really know where the knocks to the head would really come from, compared to Rugby League, where the vast majority if not all would have come from bad tackles above the shoulder.

As union doesn't have as many tackles during a game, and with the majority of tackles being legs tackles (AFAIK), where would the impact be, in scrums? rucks maybe? Maybe all those head down drives from the base of the ruck that union props seem to do?

maybe someone with some more knowledge of the game can shed some light.

RL definitely has something to worry about though, it's only going to take one player.
For some time i've felt the disciplinary on high tackles should be far greater than it is.

There are no different in tackling techniques between union and league at all. The majority of tackling in union is as same as in league  There are plenty of players getting knock out tackling around the legs in both codes. I notice the lawsuit is also against World Rugby as well as the RFU & WRU.

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2 hours ago, Red Willow said:

Didn't Shontayne Hape retire with head issues ? I recall hime saying players cheated on the pre season tests so if they were injured it was easier to pass the tests.

We also have players like Luke Robinson talking about the problems he has experienced.

The employer has a duty of care I think we have got better, no longer see players with jelly legs carrying on. We still have a long way to go but we are trying. 

Some of the most serious and obvious injuries are accidental and usually happens when when one player collides with a teammate.  

The game is very quick, attackers are elusive and defenders are committed.  If the lawyers get involved ... they already are, so things may be too late ... then even accidents, marginal challenges, will be penalised and such things will turn the game into a lottery.

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I remember having debates with neanderthals on different forums about removing the shoulder charge in RL.  People would claim hysterically that getting rid of the shoulder charge was going to destroy RL or make it soft, despite the fact that it was something that really only became big at the end of the 90s (when I started watching in the early 80s it wasn't something you saw much of at all).

These people just didn't get (and still don't) that the reason it was banned was the risk of future litigation.  All an ex-player would need in court is some highlight clips with commentators whoopping it up after big hits which knocked someone out, and defenders not being penalised but slapped on the back by teammates.  Even if those particular collisions may cause less long-term damage than cumulative smaller ones, the image is of a sport which did not value player welfare at all. 

RL has got better, but the HIA should be enforced more stringently and independently, and its probably only a matter of time before anyone who would currently get sent for an HIA will automatically have to stay off regardless of test results. We will also see the rules on tackling become more like RU, where any contact with the head results in penalties. 

In terms of litigation the NRL is probably more at risk than SL simply because it has real money. I'm not sure you'd see much of a return if a group of ex-players sued the RFL or clubs even if you could prove liability.

 

 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, EastLondonMike said:

Not being a close follower of Union i don't really know where the knocks to the head would really come from, compared to Rugby League, where the vast majority if not all would have come from bad tackles above the shoulder.

As union doesn't have as many tackles during a game, and with the majority of tackles being legs tackles (AFAIK), where would the impact be, in scrums? rucks maybe? Maybe all those head down drives from the base of the ruck that union props seem to do?

maybe someone with some more knowledge of the game can shed some light.

RL definitely has something to worry about though, it's only going to take one player.
For some time i've felt the disciplinary on high tackles should be far greater than it is.

You don’t need a direct impact on the head to be vulnerable to brain injury.

https://www.brain-injury-law-center.com/blog/whiplash-traumatic-brain-injury/

Recent studies have shown that those suffering from whiplash are also at an increased risk for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Brain injury can occur with or without a direct impact to the head.

 

So any sudden movements of the neck following a collision, you are susceptible.

I think a bigger impact will be a decline in playing numbers. Both rugby codes are a lot more physical than the past with the increase in bulk and fitness. They are brutal. The hits are bigger, so it’s inevitable the risk is bigger. Society is much more health conscious today than previously, so parents will be less inclined to sign their kid up to something with such risk.

In football I fully expect heading the ball to be removed from under age level, and even at pro level to be absent from training. The risk is less than previous as balls are much lighter and also don’t soak up water like they did, but I expect these measures to be taken. Geoff Hurst talked about how in his era players would spend a considerable amount of time in training heading a ball that was hanging from the ceiling, so from that alone it’s not a surprise older footballers are having issues with brain health. 

 

Edited by DC77
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I’m sure we’ll eventually have strict limits on both how many games a person can play each year and how many contact training sessions they have per season.

This will be in addition to changes to game rules and match day risk management.

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5 hours ago, DC77 said:

In football I fully expect heading the ball to be removed from under age level,

This already happens informally in this country and more formally in others. The difference, I guess, is that heading is a skill you can learn later in addition to the core skills of the game. For sports like RL, the whiplash impacts are integral to the sport from the moment you're playing the full contact version or training for it.

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An attempt to simplify a complex subject:

Before we go to a Def Con 1 scenario there is a legal requirement to clarify if Rugby is within the intended scope of the Health & Safety at Work Act and Health & Safety Law.

There are aspects of Safety Law cross contamination which present probable criteria to Rugby League Authorities which would be relevant to the HSE recommendations for Risk Assessment.

There would be much greater responsibility for clubs rather than players.

I've tried 😄 to fit the main Risk Assessment stages into a 10 point schedule (best to sit down)...

Here we go:

1. Basically the club would have a responsibility to not put players at obvious risk.

2. If a genuine risk exists the club should try to remove it.

3. If the risk cannot be removed or a residual risk still remains the club should/must adopt measures to suitably reduce it to prevent undue harm.

4. Identify existing controls (outlawing high tackles, currently no scrums, diligent head injury assessments etc.).  

5. Implementation of further action to negate existing risk (big, tricky task).

6. Name who is/are responsible to ensure the further action is completed.

7. Apply realistic timescale deadlines.

8. Instruct & induct players on their required conduct & responsibility.

9. Review the process to ensure appropriate Risk Management is attainable.

10. Undertake independent auditing to ensure compliance.

Good luck 🤪

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17 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

Endangered at work beyond what was acceptable before signing up?

That's like the guy in America who sued MacDonalds for allowing him to buy Big Mac's saying they made him fat.

Perhaps the best way forward is for any contract to have a disclaimer written into it very briefly something like, This profession can cause long term affects, by signing the contract you will take possesion of all future consequences.

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Difficult one to determine this. The number of ex-players suffering clearly identifies that there is a some sort of a link between the sport they played and the long term effects to the body. But as the article says the onus is very much on the players to prove the governing body was negligent, ie. they knew (or had evidence to suggest) the sport was causing these injuries and did not take all reasonable steps to prevent them from happening.

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2 minutes ago, Harry Stottle said:

That's like the guy in America who sued MacDonalds for allowing him to buy Big Mac's saying they made him fat.

Perhaps the best way forward is for any contract to have a disclaimer written into it very briefly something like, This profession can cause long term affects, by signing the contract you will take possesion of all future consequences.

On first inspection it seems like that, but dig deeper and its not so clear. For example if the Governing body and/or clubs knew about the impact of concussions and other head injuries but declined to either tell anyone or act on that information, then its more akin to a Captain setting sail knowing he has a hole in the hull of his ship.

The only issue with introducing a clause as you suggest is that this is applicable all the way down to amateurs, juniors and schools, the latter of which cannot make the decision themselves. Equally, what happens if players start turning round and deciding not to take the risk and sign that contract? Such clauses would have to be highly specific and even then might not cover medical negligence etc.

Bottom line is the sport has to be seen to do as much as it can to protect players from harm within the remits of the game.

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Penalties and red cards only occur after the damage is done. More penalties and red cards does not necessarily mean fewer offences, just like the use of more speed cameras hasn't reduced speeding offences.

Isn't it really about confirming a causal link and developing training routines, tackling techniques and game rules to reduce or even eliminate the incidence of the problem?

Yes, insurance could cover the lifetime costs of support etc but pretty sure it's not cheap.

If the class action highlights the problem across all sports and results in changes for current and future players, it will have achieved something major.

 

Four legs good - two legs bad

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Of course brain trauma is a serious matter, and employers (and regulators) have a duty of care to their employees. I always remember reading an interview with Phil Larder who went to work for the RFU/ SCW saying that before he could do anything with the England RU squad defensively, he had to teach them all how to tackle correctly.

This case is much more complex and nuanced than is being made out I think. Other factors which can cause early onset dementia/ cognitive dysfunction include excessive alcohol consumption over a period of time, anabolic steroid abuse and use of recreational drugs all of which happen in rugby union, as they do in rugby league. A quick search of the internet throws up some interesting information about a couple of the ex-players whose names appear linked with this action. Also, interestingly there is no mention of the individual clubs these players were employed by and where they spent most of their work time being sued. Probably because the lawyers know that is not where the money is. The sceptic in me thinks this is only gaining traction because a group of lawyers can see making money from it.

I have always thought that as tough and dangerous RL is to play, that modern RU is more dangerous. Shontayne Hape has well documented the dangers of being stuck at the bottom of an RU pile on aka ruck. The tackle/ ruck area in elite RU just seems a complete and utter free for all, with so much scope for injury whereas in RL it is much more controlled. Still dangerous, with knocks to the head as we saw in the SL Grand Final or with Jammer v Burgess, but definitely cleaner than in RU.

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