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Brain impact of rugby


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19 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

 

Very damning take on it. Be interesting to see the RFL's response to loading the season with extra games this year. Quality of the games have dropped because of squeezing in these extra fixtures, and increase in injuries is massively the reason.

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A litigation claim from an ex-professional is surely in the post. I get the feeling that a lot of the game's stakeholders are probably hoping that they are no longer involved in the sport by the time it lands on the door mat. RL has to get involved in this discussion, no matter how uncomfortable it might be. 

What's worrying is that there seems to be a cohort of people in the sport - fans included - who seem to think that this sort of thing should be "part and parcel" of playing contact sports. as if the players are some sort of circus freaks, giving themselves serious injuries for our entertainment. We've had a narrative developing around "the game going soft" in response to the increase in penalties and disciplinary incidents and I've even seen suggestions of making parents sign disclaimers before their kids can play, as if that isn't going to make our participation problem even worse.

Yes, contact sports have risks, but the onus is on the sport to mitigate the most serious and that mitigation goes a lot further than just handing out longer bans at the match review hearings (whilst, at the same time, insisting on increasing the work load and work intensity on the players). As a player, I could understand and accept that rugby might give me a broken leg of a dicky knee, but that it could increase the risk of developing dementia in my 30s? That's a different story. 

It's obvious which way the wind is blowing, and people still want to pee in the wrong direction. 

 

Edited by whatmichaelsays
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31 minutes ago, Wellsy4HullFC said:

Very damning take on it. Be interesting to see the RFL's response to loading the season with extra games this year. Quality of the games have dropped because of squeezing in these extra fixtures, and increase in injuries is massively the reason.

I think Leeds are involved in a gum shield based study from memory.

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59 minutes ago, Tommygilf said:

I think Leeds are involved in a gum shield based study from memory.

There's a game-wide mouthguard study currently in progress. It's an RFL initiative in conjunction with Super League clubs, with research being led by Leeds Beckett University. It's in a pilot stage at the moment with full rollout intended for November 2021.

https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/news/2021/04/leeds-beckett-university-links-with-rugby-league-on-head-impact-research-project/

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I do cringe a bit when I see our fans complaining about the game 'going soft'. If being tough means participants in our sport being placed at a higher risk of brain injuries, I'd rather the sport 'go soft'.

This is probably why we are seeing more on-field punishments for high tackles that previously would have gone unpunished. And I think it's right to err on the side of more yellow cards than fewer.

We talk all the time of the sport dying (as it allegedly has been doing for 126 years) yet ignore something like this, which is a genuine threat to the sport.

Edited by Chris22
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why is it always rugby that makes the news are boxers,ufc,wrestlers and such immune from concussions.

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Less games, fewer replacements,reduce 10m distance rule between the teams, slower correct ptb's and move away from the focus on speed, power and impact.

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Rugby Union the only game in the world were the spectators handle the ball more than the players.

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2 minutes ago, my missus said:

why is it always rugby that makes the news are boxers,ufc,wrestlers and such immune from concussions.

The legal argument here, and one I'm not sure Ward fully appreciates is slightly different in RL, is that the RU authorities knew about the dangers of concussion but neither took effective action to mitigate it nor communicated the risks to players. 

I'm not sure whether the same can be said for RL.

The argument from Boxing etc is that head impacts are obvious.

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The clear implication from these types of studies is that we either have 'Rugby' as we know it today or, due to the detrimental effects of playing, we don't.

The high contact and foul play is a red herring to some degree (not to say we shouldn't take it seriously).  This study shows that just playing a high impact sport is the causal effect of cognitive decline.  To quote the article:

"The peer reviewed University of South Wales study, which is funded by the Royal Society Wolfson Research Fellowship, recorded six concussion incidents among all the players that took part over the course of the year.

However, all of those involved in the study saw a decline in blood flow to the brain and cognitive function between pre and post-season results."

The nature of our game is running and tackling.  Rugby League even without a single penalty for foul play is a high impact sport.  Rugby League with all tackles above the line of the shoulders penalised will still be a high impact sport.

There is a huge question mark here about the sport's validity and not just at professional level where informed consent and the reward/risk is manageable to a degree but also at junior level where parents will be saying is it worth the risk for my 13, 14, 15 year old to play this sport as the tackles get harder and the players get bigger.

I have no answers but change is coming.

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I think we need to wait for this latest research to be published because I am always suspicious when a scientific study reports *all* observations moving in the same direction over what seems to be a short interval.

But the broad picture still points to reducing the number of impacts across training and matches. I really hope the reduction to a 10-team SL and Champ sees the game go for an 18-game league season.

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2 hours ago, Chris22 said:

We talk all the time of the sport dying (as it allegedly has been doing for 126 years) yet ignore something like this, which is a genuine threat to the spot.

This is the key point. 

Making the sport safer for the players won't "kill rugby league". What will kill rugby league is litigation (or the risk of it) from ex-professionals, insurers refusing to insure and parents refusing to let their kids play. 

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I ref junior/low level Rugby Union. All contact above the shoulders is a penalty. Contact with the head starts as a red card, then you look for mitigation.

One thing RL should do straight away is follow suit. There's no skill or benefit to the game with contact to the head or grappling players necks (which used to be a penalty). And follow NFL in limiting number of contact sessions in training.

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Various posts removed.

Serious subject, this.

Can we keep the discussion that way too, please.

Also, no climbing onto political high horses in here or any other parts of the RL forums either.

Thanks.

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1 hour ago, Archie Gordon said:

I think we need to wait for this latest research to be published because I am always suspicious when a scientific study reports *all* observations moving in the same direction over what seems to be a short interval.

But the broad picture still points to reducing the number of impacts across training and matches. I really hope the reduction to a 10-team SL and Champ sees the game go for an 18-game league season.

There is growing evidence of a link between rugby and brain injury particularly amongst pro rugby players. Not sure waiting for another study will change that.

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2 hours ago, Archie Gordon said:

I think we need to wait for this latest research to be published because I am always suspicious when a scientific study reports *all* observations moving in the same direction over what seems to be a short interval.

But the broad picture still points to reducing the number of impacts across training and matches. I really hope the reduction to a 10-team SL and Champ sees the game go for an 18-game league season.

That's actually a good point. Whenever I see a new scientific scare in the press I look for the original paper which often doesn't justify any of the hype (food scares are a good example of this). However this is a case where we have to be very aware of the dangers - if this is right then it would have to be the end of any head contact in ANY sport (boxing's already been quoted). 

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In RU ball carriers will go into contact head first and low to the ground in order to get to ground quickly to release the ball for the ruck, where players will fly in head first. The top international players play all year round so they barely get any respite from the games and training sessions where they are putting themselves in that situation.

In RL referees are now carding players for challenges that would have only been a penalty a few years ago but there needs to be strict limits on the amount of training contact sessions done over a season and players need to be playing less games and certainly never be playing 3 games in 9 days like is happening now. 

However the danger will never be completely eliminated as when you are running at speed and a defender gets you with a solid tackle under the ribs your momentum will cause your head to snap forward so your brain will be rattling round against the inside of your skull. I think the only real way to limit the amount of tackling and bulking up players do would be to go back to being part time again but that isn’t going to happen.

 

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1 hour ago, Dunbar said:

I know this is no laughing matter... but...

I have played a lot of Rugby and when I read the title I did think, 'what has Brian got to do with this'!

Go off for a HIA then rejoin the forum later 

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How do we police all head tackles. Do we ban anything above the clavicle, or is that too high ? I appreciate players play because they love the game, whether that be amateur or professional. Perhaps it is time to take that threat of serious head injuries away. How many ex professional players and ex amateur players are suffering from some form of brain disease. Up until a couple of months ago I was of the opinion, well we know what sport we're playing, and take the risks with it. But personally I know of a couple of ex players who are friends that are suffering form some form of brain injury. So it makes you take stock as it brings it close to you.

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