Rugby Brain Injuries



  • Before you dismiss this claim as yet another "little Johnny" story ... have a read of this. Remember Steve Thompson? The portly English hooker?

    Well, he can't remember the World Cup which he was part of and won. In 2003. A group of them are taking legal action.

    The ramifications for this are colossal.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/55201237



  • Terrible to read that he and others are struggling but I'm really disappointed by this.

    I'm a ski instructor by profession and understand the risk I put myself at every time I hit the mountain.

    Nobody is making me do this, it's my choice.

    I'm a non-competitive professional and take out professional insurance every year for the 'what if?' scenario.

    These players and the cavalcade of others sure to follow are in the same position as me.

    If they haven't insured themselves then that's on them.

    If there is a genuine case of negligence where a medical professional and/or coach has given the green light for a player to play despite knowing they are concussed then fair enough.

    Otherwise it's bad form from the former players, and if the suits are successful could change the game forever.

    Even herald its demise.



  • @MajorRage Alix Popham is another of the 8 players:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/55208227

    Horrendous.



  • @MiketheSnow it’s worrying isn’t it



  • @MiketheSnow said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    Terrible to read that he and others are struggling but I'm really disappointed by this.

    I'm a ski instructor by profession and understand the risk I put myself at every time I hit the mountain.

    Nobody is making me do this, it's my choice.

    I'm a non-competitive professional and take out professional insurance every year for the 'what if?' scenario.

    These players and the cavalcade of others sure to follow are in the same position as me.

    If they haven't insured themselves then that's on them.

    Preprofessionalism it's hard to place the blame anywhere - everyone was as clueless as each other. In modern times clearly the potential risks aren't hidden from anyone especially athletes, who are effectively independent contractors/mercenaries.; if one club isn't going to clear them to play there is a second division team in France that will.

    There is a a group though in the first decade after professionalism which a lot of these fellas fall into including Thompson, where the science on this stuff progressed rapidly and the duty of care in some places likely did not keep pace at every club. The caution with which the NZRU took McCaw's headknocks in 2004 was seen as overly cautious at the time by many - but now would probably be seen as borderline negligent.

    It must be bloody terrifying.



  • @rotated said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    The caution with which the NZRU took McCaw's headknocks in 2004 was seen as overly cautious at the time by many - but now would probably be seen as borderline negligent.

    would it? From memory, he took most of the year off didn't he?

    NZ has a pretty decent record in this space - not perfect by any stretch, but we haven't seen the 'George North' situation here



  • While it absolutely needs to be looked at and investigated to ensure long term effects are understood, the real issue is what the RFU and the clubs actually knew at the time. If there was deliberate negligence, then fair enough, they must pay.

    But I also have some sympathy for MiketheSnow's points and have this (probably unfair) nagging feeling that this is also about money than is being let on.



  • @Victor-Meldrew said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    But I also have some sympathy for MiketheSnow's points and have this (probably unfair) nagging feeling that this is also about money than is being let on.

    and some poor bastards whose health has been ruined.

    Seems a bit like asbestos. Big exposures, where people had no idea it was dangerous. However, once people know, the liability shifts fast, and you have to do something about it. The question I suspect is going to be when people knew, and whether the RFU response was proportionate.

    Here in NZ with ACC I can't see how a lawsuit would succeed (and NZR will be breathing a big sigh of relief)



  • @nzzp said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @Victor-Meldrew said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    But I also have some sympathy for MiketheSnow's points and have this (probably unfair) nagging feeling that this is also about money than is being let on.

    and some poor bastards whose health has been ruined.

    Seems a bit like asbestos. Big exposures, where people had no idea it was dangerous. However, once people know, the liability shifts fast, and you have to do something about it. The question I suspect is going to be when people knew, and whether the RFU response was proportionate.

    Here in NZ with ACC I can't see how a lawsuit would succeed (and NZR will be breathing a big sigh of relief)

    The bold bit is the key part, there is no question it was caused by playing rugby, but did the clubs and unions ignore/downplay when they dhould have know better. And it is that period between amateur and pro, when the science was new - did rugby's ppwers that be ignore it?

    In NZ, I don;t know if you could sue for this, IANAL - hopefully someone on the forum has more of an idea? None of the NZ articles have said whether this would fly in NZ or not



  • @MiketheSnow put it perfectly for me.

    If it's definitely caused by rugby, how come it's only 8 out of how many thousand players?



  • @Machpants said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    In NZ, I don;t know if you could sue for this, IANAL - hopefully someone on the forum has more of an idea? None of the NZ articles have said whether this would fly in NZ or not

    Can't sue for personal damages in NZ - we traded that away for our (generally outstanding) ACC scheme.



  • @nzzp said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @Machpants said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    In NZ, I don;t know if you could sue for this, IANAL - hopefully someone on the forum has more of an idea? None of the NZ articles have said whether this would fly in NZ or not

    Can't sue for personal damages in NZ - we traded that away for our (generally outstanding) ACC scheme.

    John Mayhew was on TV yesterday and reckons the only way a legal case can be brought is if the NZRFU were negligent. Otherwise ACC covers it



  • @Bones said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow put it perfectly for me.

    If it's definitely caused by rugby, how come it's only 8 out of how many thousand players?

    Agree, also how could it be proved under who's watch any injury happened. Take Alix Popham for example. Club rugby for I'm not sure how many clubs, regional rugby in Wales, international rugby in Wales, club rugby in France. Who foots the bill if any such action is successful? I would think there would have to be specific instances where some form of negligence could be considered, such as the George North instances. How many instances of mini-concussions did Popham have? (200K + without going back through the article).

    Negligence aside, I am very much with @MiketheSnow on this:- Shock, horror. Hold the back page. Concussion can be caused by collisions in rugby. We've all played the game and we all knew such things occurred.



  • @nzzp said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    and some poor bastards whose health has been ruined.

    Not trying to downplay the health issues - just think Mike has some good points.

    The long-term risks from head knocks & concussion have been known about in boxing and equestrian sports for years so why didn't the players and the RFU?



  • The RFU have had strict concussion protocols since the early 2000s for amateur, youth and school Rugby. If (and it is a big if) during that time they were not educating their elite players about the possible risks of head injuries and how to manage them with stand down periods etc, then the payouts could be enormous.

    Be interesting to see the details of the claims rather than the versions leaked to the press.

    My every sympathy to the players involved, but I will await for the details of the legal claims before I cast any further judgement on what may have happened.



  • @nzzp said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @rotated said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    The caution with which the NZRU took McCaw's headknocks in 2004 was seen as overly cautious at the time by many - but now would probably be seen as borderline negligent.

    would it? From memory, he took most of the year off didn't he?

    NZ has a pretty decent record in this space - not perfect by any stretch, but we haven't seen the 'George North' situation here

    The part where he came back a week or two after being carted off against the Poms. It got worse after that and then he went on a long layoff. Now I think the minimum stand down is three weeks at least - probably more for something like that. The point wasn't to bag what they did, just to show how much more caution is taken these days. Ben Smith missed the Lions decider on a suspected concussion they couldn't diagnose which turned out to be an ear infection.

    At the time the only criticism was that they were too careful!



  • @sparky RFU don't have much money - it's not the NFL in terms of turnover.

    That, and the current times aren't great for generating revenue either. Could be a bad outcome for everyone - bankrupt the RFU?



  • problem is back in the day and even more recently they just werent aware of the ongoing long term risks, even now they are learning, which is why I guess they are erring on the side of caution (in most cases)

    I know someone who played to a high level, suffered numerous concussions, but at the time, usually you just played on.

    Now suffering dementia, while I dont think they have directly linked it to concussion, it's pretty likely.

    So while we moan about rulings to save players heads and how that seems harsh, this is the reality our sport and other sports face.



  • Interesting that Steve Thompson can't remember any of the matches, but can remember the full contact training with 100 scrums, etc. Not saying anything untoward is going on, concussion / CTE seems to have varying affects over time like dementia. Scary for the guys involved.

    From a logical standpoint though, they should be going after the clubs as much as the international unions, surely? How do they decide when the most damage occured?

    I wouldn't mind seeing some of the clubs stripped of millions, particularly in France.



  • @nzzp I think this has a reasonably high chance of happening. 10pm BBC news report saying legal process kicks off next week in the UK.

    Also wonder how much this will subconsciously affect someone like Cane who has a history of concussion. Alix Popham is a v fit 41. He will likely be in a care home by 50.



  • If there is culpability it may lay at the door of whomever got rid of the mandatory 3-week stand down.

    HIA are effective for during the match decisions but there’s no healer like time.



  • @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?



  • @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?

    yep, pretty sure it was Wales he was playing for.

    No consequence either at the time - that's the kind of thing that can get seriously expensive.



  • @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?

    2015 by the look
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/rugby/international/66028990/george-north-should-not-have-stayed-on-the-pitch---world-rugby



  • At one of the semis in Paris in 2007, I somehow spent a lot of time on the concourse drinking and yarning with Steve. Nice bloke and very friendly.

    I bet he doesn't remember me though.😒

    Too soon...?



  • @Siam said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    At one of the semis in Paris in 2007, I somehow spent a lot of time on the concourse drinking and yarning with Steve. Nice bloke and very friendly.

    I bet he doesn't remember me though.😒

    Too soon...?

    i LOLed



  • Still very early in the process but will be very interesting to see how the case develops.

    I'm obviously not an expert in English law, but two things are going to be very interesting to keep an eye on.

    The first is who the defendants are going to be in the suit and in what capacity. In this case the RFU is an employer (in the case of the international players) but also has an oversight function over the clubs. So it will be interesting to see the basis of their culpability. If it is based on their failure to conduct oversight then their liability would effectively be limitless (every player in England would effectively have claim against them).

    The second issue would be fault/unlawfulness of their actions (or inaction). What did they reasonably know and when. The basic test for negligence is 1 - would the reasonable man have foreseen the risk 2 would the reasonable man have taken steps to mitigate the risk and 3 did the defendant take these steps to mitigate the risks? So saying "we didn't know because we didnt care to find out" wouldnt work, but we had reason to foresee the risk would.

    All of the above are of course complicated OHS legislation, but it might be very difficult to prove when the damage occurred so it is not clear if OHS legislation would even apply.

    Mike's point above basically comes down to consent. Here there are questions to consider. On policy grounds is this a risk we want people (especially minors) to be able to consent to? And secondly, was the consent given fairly ie what information was available when the consent was given.



  • @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?

    The best back from the ‘Tyson Fury’ dead must be George Smith.

    The authorities knew better by this point.



  • @MiketheSnow said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?

    The best back from the ‘Tyson Fury’ dead must be George Smith.

    Different code i know, but Dean Lonergan wins all contests about getting knocked out and playing on

    https://rugbyonslaught.com/video-throwback-shocking-moment-rugby-field-1991/



  • @canefan said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?

    The best back from the ‘Tyson Fury’ dead must be George Smith.

    Different code i know, but Dean Lonergan wins all contests about getting knocked out and playing on

    https://rugbyonslaught.com/video-throwback-shocking-moment-rugby-field-1991/

    Jesus

    Both arms in the air like a rear gunner in a Lancastar bomber and then legs like Shakin' Stevens.

    Letting him back on the park is criminal in retrospect.



  • @canefan surely only a matter of time before league has a similar issue?



  • Known as the Lonergan Shuffle.



  • @MiketheSnow said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?

    The best back from the ‘Tyson Fury’ dead must be George Smith.

    The authorities knew better by this point.

    First off, what a tough nugget Smith was. Second off fuck you, whoever it was sanctioned him going back on.



  • @MiketheSnow said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @canefan said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @MiketheSnow was it North who had a couple several years back and appeared he went back on after being knocked out?

    The best back from the ‘Tyson Fury’ dead must be George Smith.

    Different code i know, but Dean Lonergan wins all contests about getting knocked out and playing on

    https://rugbyonslaught.com/video-throwback-shocking-moment-rugby-field-1991/

    Jesus

    Both arms in the air like a rear gunner in a Lancastar bomber and then legs like Shakin' Stevens.

    Letting him back on the park is criminal in retrospect.

    He apparently never remembered a minute of the game after that, in what was a famous victory for the Kiwis. I met the man in a bar years ago, he was very gracious when I asked to shake his hand....



  • @taniwharugby said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @canefan surely only a matter of time before league has a similar issue?

    Absolutely. Their historic penchant for shoulder charges must see them as a higher risk code for brain injuries



  • What I think has been missed here is the suit is as much about the continual micro injuries from pretty much every hit/ruck/tackle etc. So the big bash concussion management is maybe not as important as the continual damage that pro players do to each other. You see all the articles which compare a full on high speed tackle to a car crash at XYZ kph, that is the real problem rugby has. In fact every contact sport.



  • @Machpants said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    What I think has been missed here is the suit is as much about the continual micro injuries from pretty much every hit/ruck/tackle etc. So the big bash concussion management is maybe not as important as the continual damage that pro players do to each other.

    I saw something similar in a story about NFL players - they found it wasn't the big ones that were getting guys: the continual smashing together on the scrimmage line over time was where the "floor" for CTE developed.

    To me it made the argument for removing helmets and shoulder pads from NFL - remove the false sense of security.

    Similarly in boxing, waaaaay back in the days when it was bareknuckle, hitting the head was often counter-productive as you'd like break a small bone in your hand. Not that having your ribs and organs smashed up was any better I guess...



  • @NTA Yeah bare knuckle boxing produces more blood and broken bones but much less long term damaging injuries. It is actually safer.

    Helmets and pads are dumb as fuck. ‘Science’ from pre war era



  • @NTA said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    @Machpants said in Rugby Brain Injuries:

    What I think has been missed here is the suit is as much about the continual micro injuries from pretty much every hit/ruck/tackle etc. So the big bash concussion management is maybe not as important as the continual damage that pro players do to each other.

    I saw something similar in a story about NFL players - they found it wasn't the big ones that were getting guys: the continual smashing together on the scrimmage line over time was where the "floor" for CTE developed.

    To me it made the argument for removing helmets and shoulder pads from NFL - remove the false sense of security.

    Pads and helmets for safety is such an American solution. Especially when you see what they do with them on the field



  • It's a classic case of unintended consequences where protection becomes weaponized. Boxing gloves protect the weakest part and add weight at the end of the fulcrum. Shoulder pads and helmets protect people who throw themselves at their opponent like a missile.


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