The RFU reported that one in five professional rugby union players in England suffered concussion during the 2018-19 season. It is now well established that playing rugby increases the risk of suffering a concussion, or repeated brain trauma, which in turn significantly increases the risk of poor brain health in later life, including risk of dementia. Rugby players cannot avoid having huge numbers of collisions in both matches and training. Especially at community level, players don’t necessarily have proper medical oversight or recovery protocols, and participate in matches where the recent rule changes may not be as rigorously enforced.
Where is the line between the integrity of the sport and its safety? What specific protocols could protect younger players before they can give informed consent to the wider risks of the adults’ game? Or could it be the insurance liabilities that ultimately pull the plug? Can more be done to keep rugby safe, or do we need to ban it altogether?
EDITOR and invited experts
Former England, Saracens and Bath Rugby Union player
Sports journalist and concussion activist
Former player, and rugby correspondent
Dr Michael Turner
Medical Director and CEO of The International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF) and Honorary Clinical Associate Professor at University College London (UCL).