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Concussion, early onset dementia and CTE

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Post by king_carlos Tue 08 Dec 2020, 2:43 pm

First topic message reminder :

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/dec/08/steve-thompson-former-rugby-union-players-dementia-landmark-legal-case?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

That first link is an article in the Guardian about a potential legal case being brought against World Rugby, the RFU and WRU by 8 former players (all under the age of 45) with early onset dementia brought on by probable CTE. The players named publicly thus far are Steve Thompson, Michael Lipman and Alix Popham.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/dec/08/steve-thompson-interview-world-cup-rugby-union-dementia-special-report

That second link is a Guardian interview with Thompson, who's only 42, about his experiences with early onset dementia. Somber reading.

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Post by king_carlos Mon 25 Jul 2022, 9:15 am

Not in these numbers in their 30s and 40s though, GF.

The link between contact sport, head trauma, CTE and early onset dementia is utterly undeniable at this stage.

Rugby will need to change or die, simple as that. When you look at the numbers in NFL with fewer games and restricted contact training then think about the number of games and amount of contact training rugby players go through it is very scary to think just how many we may former players we may hear of in the next 10 years.

The key questions will surely be:

1. Did any of the governing bodies have research pointing to this that they slept on?
This is what happened in the NFL and if so it would be tantamount to corporate manslaughter given that players will die young due to these conditions. We can only hope this isn't the case in rugby.

2. If they didn't perform any research was it clearly their duty to do so?
I'd argue yes. Employers have a duty of care to look after their employees. Professional rugby might not be a conventional work place but the players are still employees and their work allows their employers to profit.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 25 Jul 2022, 9:28 am

Rugby Union is dying already KC.


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Post by king_carlos Mon 25 Jul 2022, 9:44 am

Amateur men's numbers are declining but that is common across many sports. There's just more to do now. More sports, more leisure activities, more access to technology, often more work (sadly in many cases).

Climbing is a great example. I climbed growing up and as I lived in Sheffield had access to a couple of decent climbing gyms. I met a lot of kids trying to go into climbing professionally who's families moved to Sheffield to get them access to facilities. I'm currently living in a town with a population under 1,500 and there's a decent climbing gym a 10 minute walk up the road. That's absolutely brilliant in general but that improved access to other options means the traditional sports will naturally see a drop off in amateur numbers.

In other areas such as the women's game there is obvious and rapid growth though.

The key indicator longer term will be juniors numbers and as far as I know they are fairly steady?

Rugby can continue to grow but it will need to adapt to protect its players and the boards currently hoarding wealth will need to think about the future as well as themselves.

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Post by GeordieFalcon Mon 25 Jul 2022, 9:59 am

king_carlos wrote:Amateur men's numbers are declining but that is common across many sports. There's just more to do now. More sports, more leisure activities, more access to technology, often more work (sadly in many cases).

Climbing is a great example. I climbed growing up and as I lived in Sheffield had access to a couple of decent climbing gyms. I met a lot of kids trying to go into climbing professionally who's families moved to Sheffield to get them access to facilities. I'm currently living in a town with a population under 1,500 and there's a decent climbing gym a 10 minute walk up the road. That's absolutely brilliant in general but that improved access to other options means the traditional sports will naturally see a drop off in amateur numbers.

In other areas such as the women's game there is obvious and rapid growth though.

The key indicator longer term will be juniors numbers and as far as I know they are fairly steady?

Rugby can continue to grow but it will need to adapt to protect its players and the boards currently hoarding wealth will need to think about the future as well as themselves.

Yeah there is so much variety. i always played rugby and was also heavily in to martial arts.

i think the fans attendance is an issue though. Even myself as an avid falcon, ive been religiously going for many many years, but recently have found myself missing games to do other things.

In the SH Union is the poor relation to many other sports in AUS for example AFL and League dominate.

Crowd attendance in NZ games arent huge.

And yet many new nations are coming to the game...Chile, many african nations etc.

The constant rule changes are an irritant to me, and with the player safety now Massively in the foreground, the game could change completely.

So it'll be interesting to see where Union goes.


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Post by king_carlos Mon 25 Jul 2022, 12:18 pm

Attendance at grounds dropping could be offset by increasing broadcast revenue from more watching at home though.

Where that moves as streaming becomes more common will be very interesting. This year for instance I took a Stan sports subscription and bought a 3 year VPN to use it as they are Aussie based. The VPN cost £25 for 3 years and Stan is just under £10 a month. I get all Premiership games live, immediately available for replay as well as the rest Stan sports offers. If Premiership rugby offered an actually good streaming service at a reasonable price many would pay it I think. The key is actually good and reasonable price there of course!

I also think dropping attendances at some clubs could be mitigated by having fewer games and higher quality when played. As with many of rugby's problems.

I feel covid put a sudden but probably necessary brake and reality check on rugby's growth as a professional sport. It can survive, grow and thrive but to do so we need to be forward thinking with how the game grows as well as how we make it safe to play.

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Post by Welshmushroom Mon 25 Jul 2022, 3:23 pm

It's probably worth mentioning that the NFL case back in 2013 went to court and the judge at the time basically postponed the trial and told them to settle because this was a difficult thing to judge.  They settled after this ruling.

One the rugby side it gets even more complicated to win.  I'm surprised the action is being taken against the WRU and RFU specifically.  The majority of players in the case have never been hired by the WRU and RFU.  Surely liability would for those cases therefore lie with the PRL and Regions as they are their own entities and they essentially own the player rights that they sell off to their respective Unions for access.  Granted the WRU and RFU are responsible for all levels of rugby under the pro level so the second case relating to amateur players will 100% be their responsibility.

For those that have been playing internationally its going to hard to prove directly that the concussions leading to the long term health conditions are tied to those games instead of the club games they would have all participated in.  

I hope for all parties concerned they reach a reasonable settlement and lessons are learned moving forward.

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Post by R!skysports Mon 25 Jul 2022, 4:14 pm

I am sure it has been covered here before, but when I watch the top level rugby, I am shocked and disgusted at the tackle technique of the players.

They will not have been taught that growing up through the age groups (I coach both my kids (Under 11 and under 8) where the focus on proper technique is paramount (and I see that all the way up to under 18 at reasonable levels) - so there must be some point where the coaching changes to 'stop them at any cost' regardless of how you tackle. And if that is the case, then there are serious charges to be brought (IMO)

I remember some of the interviews with Rory Lamont, where I think he says that the management have very little regard for player welfare and safety - and if that is the case, that is where we need to start


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Post by Rugby Fan Tue 26 Jul 2022, 1:54 am

The claimants and unions have been trying to find a settlement since the issue was made public. Presumably, the unions have been stuck on the question of liability, and not having much money to meet potential claims.

Perhaps we'll finally get some clarity, though the sport might suffer a lot of reputational damage along the way, however the case plays out.

To date, the problem has always been World Rugby trying to introduce protocols which will give it sufficient legal cover, only to see them bent out of shape by players and coaches who can't see their point. You often hear pundits openly wondering why professional players can't just sign a waiver, which would reduce the need for such measures.

Waivers don't mean anything, if governing bodies can be shown to have failed to provide sufficient information and care for a waiver to make sense.

The claimants can probably show their conditions are related to their rugby careers, to greater or lesser extents. The thornier question is what liability the governing bodies have. Unfortunately, it's hard to see that being quickly resolved.

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Post by doctor_grey Tue 26 Jul 2022, 10:15 pm

king_carlos wrote:Not in these numbers in their 30s and 40s though, GF.

The link between contact sport, head trauma, CTE and early onset dementia is utterly undeniable at this stage.

Rugby will need to change or die, simple as that. When you look at the numbers in NFL with fewer games and restricted contact training then think about the number of games and amount of contact training rugby players go through it is very scary to think just how many we may former players we may hear of in the next 10 years.

The key questions will surely be:

1. Did any of the governing bodies have research pointing to this that they slept on?
This is what happened in the NFL and if so it would be tantamount to corporate manslaughter given that players will die young due to these conditions. We can only hope this isn't the case in rugby.

2. If they didn't perform any research was it clearly their duty to do so?
I'd argue yes. Employers have a duty of care to look after their employees. Professional rugby might not be a conventional work place but the players are still employees and their work allows their employers to profit.
I started to write something but sounded too preachy.  You all know how I feel.  When my old man started me in Rugby he warned me to watch my head.  And that was a foreign service officer not a med expert.  I think that was a few years after William Webb Ellis did his thing.    

As KC said above, a big key is that the NFL have a 17 regular season games, plus maybe 3 playoff games in a season which lasts 6 months.  Rugby players have this zillion game 10 month season, including internationals.  And the NFL does not have internationals which pit the best against best. Both sports have finally reduced contact in training.  But that carries risk too.  Players need to practice contact to get their form right.  How many players are getting injured or carded because they didn't tackle low enough?

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Post by dummy_half Wed 27 Jul 2022, 10:14 am

A couple of things:

1 - Interesting question regarding liabilty - My understanding was that English players were contracted to their clubs, but how does it then work with them playing for the national side? Is there effectively a separate contract with the RFU to play for England, or are they effectively sub-contracted via the club? In't the structure a bit different in Wales with the WRU and regions (and different again in Ireland, where the regions are effectively part of the Irish Rugby hierarchy)?

2 - From a legal perspective, worth remembering that this is a civil case, and so the standard of proof is only 'balance of probabilities' rather than 'beyond reasonable doubt'. I think it's quite easy to reach the burden of 'balance of probabilities' (which I've also heard described as 50% + 1) that head contact in rugby is a major contributory cause in these CTE / early onset dementia cases, but that doesn't answer the liability question.

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Post by The Oracle Wed 27 Jul 2022, 2:07 pm

Maybe I’m not thinking this through enough, but if the players win a litigation case against the union (and I don’t begrudge them at all if they do), surely that must mean the end of contact in rugby? My thinking being that if they win then the ruling must be that rugby head knocks do contribute to CTE and does lead to dementia (and other things), and that the union did not do all they could to mitigate. And so if they don’t stop the contact that causes it then they’ll be liable for all other cases going forward. The union/world rugby (or whoever) will not be able to get insurance to cover that going forward, surely? And pros would be ridiculously stupid to sign a waiver. So how can they go on sanctioning a game where contact is part and parcel of the whole game?

I just can’t see a way that, if the unions lose a case, they will be able to carry on with the game in the current format and leave themselves open to case after case. They’d be ruined.

Thinking out loud, but could world rugby enforce a certain type of tackle (one deemed safer somehow) and then if players get their technique wrong then the blame lies with the player and not the union? Similar to a waiver I suppose so not sure that would work. But how else can we keep contact?
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Post by doctor_grey Thu 28 Jul 2022, 1:38 am

The Oracle wrote:Maybe I’m not thinking this through enough, but if the players win a litigation case against the union (and I don’t begrudge them at all if they do), surely that must mean the end of contact in rugby? My thinking being that if they win then the ruling must be that rugby head knocks do contribute to CTE and does lead to dementia (and other things), and that the union did not do all they could to mitigate. And so if they don’t stop the contact that causes it then they’ll be liable for all other cases going forward. The union/world rugby (or whoever) will not be able to get insurance to cover that going forward, surely? And pros would be ridiculously stupid to sign a waiver. So how can they go on sanctioning a game where contact is part and parcel of the whole game?

I just can’t see a way that, if the unions lose a case, they will be able to carry on with the game in the current format and leave themselves open to case after case. They’d be ruined.

Thinking out loud, but could world rugby enforce a certain type of tackle (one deemed safer somehow) and then if players get their technique wrong then the blame lies with the player and not the union? Similar to a waiver I suppose so not sure that would work. But how else can we keep contact?
Not sure how a verdict would play out, nor the impact on sport across the board.  If Rugby as a sport, or the constituent unions are culpable, then there would have to be a knock-on impact on boxing and MMA which are orders of magnitude worse and more harmful than any other mainstream or semi-mainstream sport.  But remember football/soccer has a concussion rate loosely equivalent to Rugby.  And then we have ice hockey, basketball, lacrosse, etc..  So depending on the verdict, it could kill sport.  I don't know for sure, but I believe that was one of the factors leading to the American courts to tell the NFL to compromise with the players.  Oddly, this had no impact on American Football in the universities, and lower level schools where there are infinitely more players, all of which have the same risks as NFL players. And each of these other sports have the same issues in the schools.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 28 Jul 2022, 7:27 am

Slightly connected to the topic. 20 min reds have been brought in for this year's Rigby Championship.

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Post by RiscaGame Thu 28 Jul 2022, 9:08 am

No 7&1/2 wrote:Slightly connected to the topic. 20 min reds have been brought in for this year's Rugby Championship.

What a load of tosh. So tone deaf.

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Post by king_carlos Sat 30 Jul 2022, 11:32 pm

I was discussing these court cases with a friend and an area where he suggested these cases could get ugly that I hadn't thought of was drug use - both PED and recreational. The defences will raise anything they can think of to muddy the waters of what has harmed the players health. I'd be very surprised if lawyers don't ask players under oath about PED and recreational drug use.

Recreational drugs in particular are a dirty secret in sport that I'm surprised hasn't come out more. Coke use especially. The UK has a whole sees prolific coke use in young professionals with disposal income. Rugby players fall bang in that demographic and are renowned for loving a good time. Whilst many PEDs can be difficult to test for recreational drugs really aren't.

On top of the likelihood that PEDs are rife as in rugby as in most pro sport you've got rugby's drinking and partying culture thrown in as well. It had never crossed my mind until my pal mentioned it but I'd be very surprised if defences didn't as questions about drug use.

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Post by Rugby Fan Sun 31 Jul 2022, 4:24 am

king_carlos wrote:I was discussing these court cases with a friend and an area where he suggested these cases could get ugly that I hadn't thought of was drug use - both PED and recreational.

Bringing up rugby's culture of booze and drugs is not going to be good for anyone, so the fact we're on this track, shows how far apart the two sides are.

Telegraph has this story on a women's rugby international.

The family of a Scotland Women’s rugby player who died aged 26 have joined the brain injury lawsuit against the game’s authorities.

Siobhan Cattigan tragically passed away in November but the cause of death was revealed for the first time during an interview which was published in the Sunday Times.

The article chronicled Cattigan’s devastating decline after suffering head injuries in February 2020 and April 2021 and serious concerns raised by her mother, Morven, and father, Neil, about how she was allowed to continue to play, the conduct of those within the Scotland camp, and the amount of support she received both internally and from external healthcare professionals.

The Sunday Times reported “it had got to the point where she could no longer live with the pain in her head and Siobhan succumbed to an irrational thought and impulsive action”.

Proclaiming “something catastrophic had happened to Siobhan’s brain”, her mother said: “As time went by, I likened it to dementia, because I couldn’t think of anything that would change a personality so massively, something that completely alters you as a person.”

Her father said: “They fixed her broken bones but turned their backs on Siobhan’s broken brain. Believing it was avoidable, knowing that you trusted people you shouldn’t have trusted, it just compounds my guilt.

“I was the one who brought rugby into this family, and the reason why she started playing was because she was with me. Rugby gave her the happiest days and memories — and ultimately rugby is why she’s not here.”

Scottish Rugby said in a statement: “Our condolences and thoughts continue to be with the Cattigan family and from the outset we offered Neil & Morven our full support.

“The mental and physical welfare of all our players and people is central to Scottish Rugby. We have excellent and dedicated colleagues throughout the organisation who are committed to delivering high standards of medical care and welfare support, whenever it is needed.

“Scottish Rugby has developed multiple ways in which mental health support can be provided and accessed, including through independent third party providers. However due to medical confidentiality we cannot provide details or comment on individuals.

“The rugby community in Scotland is close-knit — many people in Scottish Rugby and across the wider game were deeply saddened by Siobhan’s passing and continue to be affected by it, having known and spent time with her during her rugby career. We continue to make support available to them, if required.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/rugby-union/2022/07/30/family-tragic-siobhan-cattigan-join-brain-injury-lawsuit/

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Post by Rugby Fan Fri 12 Aug 2022, 6:36 am

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/rugby-union/2022/08/11/exclusive-world-rugby-hits-back-concussion-lawsuits-questions/

Exclusive: World Rugby hits back over concussion lawsuits and questions legal action

World Rugby has hit back in its first public response to the concussion lawsuit brought by former players, casting doubt on the numbers involved and criticising their tactical recruitment.

The sport’s global governing body has until now remained silent on the growing number of past players who have taken legal action over an apparent failure to protect them during their careers from the risks of early on-set dementia, with legal documentation submitted last month to World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union.

But speaking exclusively to Telegraph Sport, World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin:

-   Said the governing body believes the number of players involved is smaller than the near-200 reported
-   Hit out at the apparent targeted use of the media to recruit new complainants
-   Claimed those affected should engage with World Rugby rather than take legal action
-   Confirmed talks had ended with lobby group Progressive Rugby due to members’ involvement in legal proceedings.

Gilpin stressed World Rugby’s ongoing determination to make the game as safe as possible when it comes to head impacts, and after receiving legal documentation from Rylands, the sports law team responsible for those taking action, he questioned how reports of the involvement of an estimated 200 former players emerged and whether information was being given to the media in order to attract new members to legal proceedings.

"When the original action was issued to us some time ago it was involving nine players, more recently they have started to claim that number has grown significantly," Gilpin said. "It’s not, as far as we can see, in the documentation provided to us quite at the number which is being suggested in some parts of the media.

"One concern is the approach being taken by some parties in that claim to apparently use the media effectively to recruit more players into that action.

"What we would say to those players who aren’t currently part of the action is; can we have a dialogue about how we can all provide better support. It’s important that we find a way for players to have that dialogue without feeling the need to resort to legal action."

Gilpin stressed that World Rugby was already reviewing its support structures to help players post-retirement, which could avoid a potentially devastating financial battle that may alter the future of the sport.

He also took aim at Progressive Rugby - which recently issued a series of recommendations to World Rugby - and said that the involvement of some of its members in the legal case has halted talks about how a resolution could be sought.

"We’re concerned when any kind of group in the media of people involved in legal claims are making sweeping statements which are going unchallenged, and often aren’t true," Gilpin said. "We’ve had a lot of debate with Progressive Rugby over the last 12 months.

"To be honest that dialogue has now stopped, because there are a number of people we are now aware of involved in Progressive Rugby who are involved in the lawsuit, and therefore we can’t enter into the same direct dialogue with Progessive Rugby and some of those individuals as we could previously, and that in itself is a shame. But Progressive Rugby would hopefully agree that we’ve had a positive engagement with them."

Gilpin defended World Rugby’s position, arguing that it has already taken actions that will help players to understand the full risks posed in rugby and what they can do to minimise them.

"A huge part of this is education, making sure we are pointing players to where that support does exist, or providing a structure where we can listen to them. That’s why in some respects the litigation is challenging because we can’t have that conversation with the players directly because there’s a live legal case against us.

"Our message to [those players involved in the case] is very much: we absolutely care, we are listening, we are part of the debate and we want to make the right type of progress.

"We can understand why players who maybe feel like they haven’t had another avenue to pursue are pursuing that, and maybe that suggests as a sport that we need to do more to provide a network of support for former players, particularly professionals, who come to the end of their careers and have real concerns.

"That’s definitely a big call-out for us that we’re now discussing with International Rugby Players Associations, nationals RPAs and other groups how we can provide better care for players who are coming to the end of their careers or have retired, and have concerns about mental health issues or related to dementia."

In response to Gilpin, Richard Boardman, of Rylands Law, said: "We have notified the defendants a number of times as part of pre-action correspondence of the number of clients we represent. That number is, inevitably, increasing all the time as the issue of traumatic brain injuries in rugby union is given more exposure as more and more players speak out about their brain damage.

"Aside from the legal action, there are also those with an interest in the safety of those currently playing, such as the player welfare group Progressive Rugby, who raise talking points about incidents in certain recent games that further highlight the issue. One concern is that the approach being taken by some parties in the claim is to use the media exposure effectively to downplay the scale of this issue in the sport."

As a former player himself and now father to a 14-year-old rugby-playing son, Gilpin has found the recent testimonies of Ryan Jones, Steve Thompson, Alix Popham and Carl Hayman among many more just as "incredibly challenging to read" as the rest of the rugby world.

All of those players are currently part of the legal proceedings against World Rugby claiming governing bodies failed to protect players during their careers from the risks of early on-set dementia.

Gilpin and World Rugby have made extensive efforts in recent years to attempt to reduce the number and severity of head impacts within the sport, so that future players do not suffer the same fate as their predecessors.

Speaking to Telegraph Sport, Gilpin has now revealed that World Rugby hopes to convince those players who are part of the legal action, or weighing up joining, that the governing body will do more to ensure the best possible systems are in place to support retiring players concerned by the risk of degenerative brain disease.

"We always say that anyone who has been in a rugby family never leaves it, and we have to demonstrate that to the players who feel that’s not the case. I can definitely say personally not a day or hour goes by in the job that I do where we are not thinking about these issues. It’s our number one priority for a good reason," Gilpin explains.

"We’re focused on head contact, to make the game safe and make sure we do the right thing by players. We know that high contact in the tackle leads to the most concussions in the game, so we’ve had a big drive through law change, officiating and the way we teach tackle technique."

Risks to elite pros not the same at grass-roots

Discussions around concussion and reducing head impacts remain a "very detailed, complex area", Gilpin points out, but the governing body is eager to stress that head impacts in the community game "are not comparable" to professional players.

Findings from an extensive study undertaken by the University of Otago and New Zealand Rugby, set to be published by the end of the year, are expected to reinforce that head impacts in community and age-grade rugby are "very dissimilar to the elite level of the game".

Gilpin adds: "Those important experiences of former elite international rugby players are being conflated into the question of whether it’s safe for my son or daughter to play mini rugby, and they are two different debates.

"Ninety-nine per cent of our global playing population in the sport are not playing at the elite, professional level. We’re confident that the type of head impacts that are occurring in the community game are not comparable to what’s happening in the elite game."
Why mandatory stand-down periods won’t work

Gilpin, who succeeded Brett Gosper as chief executive officer in January last year, has a lot on his plate when it comes to player safety, even though dialogue with the lobby group Progressive Rugby has come to a close in the midst of the legal proceedings. While the two parties have met for discussions in the past, there remain issues where both sides are wide apart.

"[Progressive Rugby] would like to see a different approach to the return-to-play protocols," Gilpin explains. "Mandatory stand-downs... they understand why we don’t believe that’s right for the sport and we do believe the individualised return-to-play protocols are the correct way, because history will show that mandatory stand downs drive under-reporting of concussions, and we absolutely don’t want players not to come forward and report concussion symptoms because they’re worried about missing the next two or three games.

"We want concussions to be recognised and reported properly and players to be cared for based on their own factors, which is why there’s been this further evolution of the return-to-play protocols which take into account players’ concussion history, both immediate and longer term and periods of return to play are adjusted accordingly.

"That’s not driven by World Rugby making those decisions in a dark room, it’s the independent concussion expert group that we have driving those decisions based on the latest science."

Harsh punishments must remain part of clampdown

The 20-minute red card - currently being trialled in the Rugby Championship, given a lack of data from previous Covid-impacted seasons - remains unlikely to be trialled globally and therefore to come into law.

"Given all the issues and emphasis around concussion, particularly in the northern hemisphere, there isn’t the kind of support needed for that to move forward," Gilpin says.

"I know it’s a divisive issue, and maybe it’s been driven by a coach-led debate in the south around maintaining the spectacle of the game and not having what’s perceived as red cards ruining matches, versus a slightly different debate in the north where there’s a lot more debate around head injury and concussion."

World Rugby will also "stay vigilant" when it comes to administering red cards for dangerous contacts to the head, citing how previous drives to reduce tackles in the air and spear tackles had been successful using stricter punishments and the importance of teaching the right technique at the junior level of the game with future generations, while at the same time sympathising with players.

"We genuinely understand that very often we are talking about players making decisions in a fraction of a second around changing heights, coming into contact. It’s an incredibly challenging area."

Gilpin adds that the game's top match officials are "incredibly self-critical" when it comes towards driving consistency with red cards for contact to the head, a recent bugbear for fans during the July Tests.

"No one wants to see a World Cup determined by an officiating decision, but those decisions are crucial to the behavioural change which is needed," Gilpin concludes.

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Post by RiscaGame Fri 12 Aug 2022, 8:16 pm

I found this response from WR awful.

Dr Barry O’Druscoll responded to it on the Telegraph. Because it is paywalled (I think), I’ll link to a small Twitter thread where Alix Popham shows screen grabs.

https://twitter.com/alixpopham/status/1558154857399320577?s=21&t=TAHdjXE2dqOFcCKykGxgRg

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Post by king_carlos Yesterday at 12:20 am

The NFL eventually acted after weight of public pressure shifted following high profile suicides of players with deteriorating mental health who were diagnosed with CTE post-mortem. I desperately hope rugby doesn't come to that.

Gilpin's claim that the number of plaintiffs is being exaggerated is an odd one as this would be an astonishingly dumb thing to do in a law suit.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_NFL_players_with_chronic_traumatic_encephalopathy#Former_players_listed_as_plaintiffs_in_lawsuits_against_the_NFL_for_concussion-related_injuries_received_after_playing

For some scale you can have a scroll through that list of former players listed as plaintiffs in lawsuits against the NFL.

That is a statement which seems out of touch now but as these cases grow it will age astonishingly poorly.

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Post by Rugby Fan Yesterday at 4:38 am

World Rugby did need to position itself somewhere in this debate. They have made some unfortunate choices, however.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to cast doubt on the number of players engaged in legal action. If there is liability, then even a small number would be significant. While liability is still undecided, then any attempt by World Rugby to downplay numbers will be hostage to any additional players going public.

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Post by doctor_grey Yesterday at 2:50 pm

Alan Gilpin is somewhere between tone-deaf and appearing over-his-head in his current position.  Whether he believes any of the medical evidence or any of the the stories by former players who are now compromised we just don't know.  But this is how pro sport in general is going and if Rugby doesn't get ahead of this or align and work with other sports and activities, it will become a serious part of the problem.  Personally anyone who could address a major issue with something resembling 50% psycho-babble should not be in his position.  

Post-career player health is becoming a much bigger part of sport.  And teams which want to attract better players are going to increasingly refer to longer term medical involvement as an incentive.  Remember cognitive or neural function decline are only one potential fall out of playing pro sport.  To be competitive as a sport we have to look at this as a big issue and get ahead of it as best we can.

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Post by WELL-PAST-IT Yesterday at 4:11 pm

This is an aside as it is not rugby related but sport and health related. I was watching the Commonwealth Games diving, the rotation speed these people achieve carrying out triple summersaults and the like must be smashing the brain around inside the skull just as much as a collision, and they are doing this day in day out in training as well as competition. Does anyone know if there have been ill effects amongst the participants in this particular sport
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Post by Rugby Fan Today at 6:02 am

The BBC has a transcript of an interview given by Mark Dodson, John Jeffrey, and James Robson, following claims made by the family of Siobhan Cattigan.

https://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/62535261

It is put to Dodson that his comments lack detail, and seem evasive. However, I have some sympathy the position the SRU is in. When you are accused, as an organization, of negligence and bad faith, with the likelihood these claims will be tested in court, then you are necessarily limited in what you can say.

Q: In the wider picture, is there a fear that (with all this potential litigation around brain injury) rugby will be legislated out of existence financially or otherwise?

MD: That's not for me to say and that's why we are waiting for medical opinion. There is a tragedy when you see any human being going through what's been alleged in the wider case, the Siobhan Cattigan case and with Kieran and John as well. What we're trying to do is not pre-judge anything, look at the facts. Whether that is damaging or deleterious to rugby in the longer-term, I don't know and can't say yet. All we can say is that we have to deal with what we know and what we knew at the time.

The legal implication of this makes it very difficult. We don't know what we are facing yet in terms of class action or individual action and we are taking advice from our lawyers, who advise us to approach this in a certain way, because we are trying to protect the people involved in this as litigants and our own people where we have a duty of care to as well. Then we've got to look at the alleged incidents, what happened to these people when they were in the care of Scottish Rugby. I'd love to be able to explain to you how complex this is and I'm not trying to put any fog out there, but if you were in our shoes, looking at the delicacy that surrounds this, and what we feel already for the Cattigan family and anyone who has been involved in this, it's not something we will take lightly. We're taking our time and doing this in the most thorough way possible so we can give the most complete picture.

Q: The allegation from the Cattigans, the impression of a lack of basic decency from the SRU around this. Why is that?

MD: That's part of the issue we have - we don't recognise parts of that [Sunday Times article]. We don't agree and we don't recognise. We are not going to comment on these things piecemeal, we are going to comment holistically on it.

Q: Bryan Easson (Scotland women's team coach) has denied that he did anything wrong in his duty of care to Siobhan. Do you have confidence in him?

MD: I have confidence in Bryan as a coach. As far as allegations are made against Bryan, we will look into those and establish facts as time goes past. Bryan is leading the team to the World Cup finals and has two international matches to concentrate on in the near future.

Q: There are an awful lot of allegations about the care - or lack of care - Siobhan may have received. The family have said they feel let down and that, had their daughter been referred to a neurologist, she'd be alive today. What's your response to that? They also say that there has been an absence of empathy from the SRU.

JJ: We are not going to come back piecemeal to say this is right and that was wrong. Hopefully, in time, the full story will come out.

MD: We've got a grieving family, totally traumatised by what has happened. There have been allegations made about the behaviour of the union and individuals. We responded immediately to the Cattigan family with our commiserations and gave them the opportunity to contact us. That wasn't taken up.

Q: Why not pick up the phone and talk to them after they spoke a few weeks back?

JJ: That support was offered to them at the time, when Siobhan died, and they didn't take that up. We were dealing through the uncle. Since then, they have written the article and have asked for their privacy to be protected.

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