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As the Rugby World Cup gets underway the focus of Martin Raftery, Chief Medical officer for World Rugby, is to make the game safer. A change in the rules, in particular in relation to the tackle is his solution to reducing the devastating effect of injuries in the game.
The issue has been investigated by BBC Panorama. Panorama’s ‘Rugby and the Brain – Tackling the Truth’ will be broadcast on BBC One on Monday 21 September.
Worryingly concussions in rugby have doubled in five years. Reportedly an UK expert opined that on average one player at every Six Nations match suffered a brain injury. Thankfully, awareness of concussion and brain injury is increasing. English and Scottish rugby unions have announced they would be trying to make the game safer.
The BBC states that the number of reported concussions in English rugby rose by 59% in 2013-14 and in Scotland, the figure has also nearly doubled in the past two years.
Raftery said, “Player welfare is about identifying what the risk is and then bringing about change…There’s no doubt that the biggest area that we know where concussion is going to occur is in the tackle, so that will help us to look at the tackle and see what we can do to make it safer…My job is to identify risk and then look for solutions and then present those solutions to the law-makers to make the changes that will bring about protection of the athlete.”
Raftery will also be carefully reviewing video evidence from numerous rugby concussions in an attempt to identify why the injuries occur. Any possible changes to the laws would be based on this analysis. That evidence and any recommendations would be presented to the governing body’s Laws Committee. That body would then take a final decision.
One option that has been suggested for reform of the tackle is changing the rules to encourage players to tackle lower on the body of their opponent.
The increased awareness of head injury in the game of rugby is essential. The safer the game can be made whilst protecting the core values of rugby will allow future generations to be encouraged to play the sport is a safe and supportive environment.
Novum Law understand the devastating impact that a head injury can have on the individual and their loved ones. The raised awareness of the risk of concussion can only help reduce these potentially life changing injuries from occurring.
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