Exposing the brutality of rugby

Exposing the brutality of rugby injuries in children and adults.

Exposing the brutality of rugby

Recently in the UK more than 70 doctors and health experts joined together to call for a ban on tackling in school rugby games.

In an letter written to chief medical officers, ministers, and children’s commissioners, it describes rugby as a “high-impact collision sport” and warns of the high risk of serious injury amongst youngsters playing rugby, urging schools to move to the ‘touch’ and non-contact versions of the game. The letter looks at the injuries that occur during contact or collision and says; “These injuries, which include fractures, ligamentous tears, dislocated shoulders, spinal injuries and head injuries, can have short-term, life-long and life-ending consequences for children.”

Rugby is a collision sport, contact and risk of injury is significant. Anyone playing rugby has a good chance of being seriously injured during a game.

Even old hands of the game are voicing their concern that the game is getting tougher, more dangerous.

  • Rugby injury rates are reported to be nearly three times higher than soccer.

  • Most injuries are experienced by 10-18 year olds.

  • Between 5-25% of rugby injuries are head injuries, including concussions.

  • In youths aged 10-18 years, 35% of injuries are fractures, of which 24% involve the clavicle.

  • Superficial injuries represent 20% of rugby injuries, followed by head injuries and sprains (16%). Of the head injuries, 44% are concussions.[1]

Not only do we have a sport that is unsafe for our young, we have adults in role model positions who continue to play even when being injured and medically diagnosed unfit to play. We have too often seen men who, after concussion, have walked back on the field and been allowed to keep playing.

What messages are these examples that we sending to our young? What messages are we sending out to our communities? That it is ok for men to get seriously hurt in a so-called ‘game’. That it is ok for men to harm one another, that it is ok to knock someone off their feet with such a force that the person may never walk again. That for the sake of a ‘game’ you can seriously risk damaging yourself or another?

In rugby, the men give it their all but what happens when giving their all means they unintentionally seriously harm someone? Knowing all the dangers of the game, can we even say that some injuries are unintentional? After all there are many players dispatched to the “Sin-Bin” or sent off for the rest of the game for reasons relating to dangerous play.

Take away the ball and you have groups of men having a fighting, forceful brawl – put the ball back in and we call it sport.

The Grim Reality:[2]

  • About 1,200 people suffer head injuries while playing rugby each year.

  • About two-thirds of these injuries in both cases are either concussion or brain injuries, at a rate of about 1000 a year.

  • In total, more than 50,000 people seek medical attention for rugby injuries each year, costing about $60 million.

Repeated head trauma can and has left some players with lasting brain damage.

  • Concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, causes the brain to move out-of-kilter with the skull, tearing or stretching the nerve fibres and upper brain stem.

  • A torn brain stem can cause immediate disorientation, confusion and loss of memory. It usually results in a complete loss of consciousness.

  • For months afterwards the person can continue to feel sleepy, experience slow thinking, blurred vision and headaches. The symptoms have been likened to post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • If a person, still recovering from a concussion, is hit again it can cause acute brain swelling, with potentially disastrous consequences”[2]

When any road collision happens data is routinely collected, but this is not so in rugby. Rugby injuries are not always monitored and the data not collected routinely, even though these injuries can have the same impact as a high-speed car crash.

Allyson M Pollock, lead researcher at the Barts Centre for Trauma Sciences, has spent the last 10 years researching rugby injuries and highlights growing concerns about lack of injury data in schools and clubs. Schools that are meant to be a safe place for controlled sports allow injuries to go unrecorded.[3] Failure of government and rugby authorities to collect data is also a failure to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which states (Article 19), governments have a duty to protect children from risks of injury: ‘States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment.’[4]

The big question is why is there world wide a lack of official data? Could it be that no data means no problem for the rugby authorities who do not have to look at and deal with how actually brutal and unnatural it is?

Rugby is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world and has huge commercial interests, sponsors and backers. Millions of pounds each year goes into promoting and developing the rugby industry, and yet every year tens of thousands of players are injured and having to go to A&E with spinal cord injuries, ligamentous tears, fractures, and concussion.

So the question really needs to be asked; in whose interests are they acting?

In one year alone the Accident Compensation Corporation (a Government Body) of the small populated country New Zealand (4.79 million people) spent nearly $78 million on rugby injuries and that alongside longstanding NFL concussion scandals, we really need to ask what is going on and why is it that the brutality of the sport is not addressed.

A congressional report earlier this year found The National Football League wrongly tried to influence a government research centre that was studying the connection between concussions and brain disease.

When the NFL, who has annual revenues of $9.2 billion, learned the research would be detrimental to the leagues image, they withdrew millions of dollars worth of funding and held a direct campaign to remove Robert Stern – an expert in neurodegenerative disease – who had publicly criticized the league.[5]

“Research has found that concussions and repeated hits to the head from playing football can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. This brain disease has been linked to depression and suicidal thoughts in several former athletes”.

CTE is caused by a history of repeated head trauma (including known concussions and asymptomatic sub-concussive injuries), and its often-devastating behavioural manifestations include “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and eventually, progressive dementia”[6]

The New York Times alleged that the NFL ignored over 100 concussions, downplaying the frequency of head trauma in professional football.

In all, more than 10% of all head injuries were not included in the NFL's data, according to The Times' report.

About 4,200 former players have sued The NFL claiming it promoted violence in the game and has hidden the cogitative risks from concussion.[5]

In January lawyers representing the players issued a brief stating the NFL failed to live up to its responsibility: it negligently heightened players' exposure to repeated head trauma and fraudulently concealed the chronic brain injuries that resulted.

Concussion is a frequent injury in rugby and most concussion occurs during the tackle[7]

A concussion study at the Boston University School of Medicine, released in January, looked at the donated brains of people who had suffered head trauma in football, hockey, boxing or military combat. The study found that many had evidence of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.[8]

Why is it we are burying our heads in the sand when it comes to Rugby injuries and why is data not being accurately collected, documented and shared with the public? And why is it that countless injuries to young and old are not monitored?

The sheer brutality of the game and these statistics of serious injuries leads us to ask why do men feel the need to compete in the first place?

Is this the state of play men really want?

“Sport teaches confidence by making you better in comparison to another. And hence, we get so-called ‘confident’ at the expense of others. This is nothing but an illusion that needs the constant comparison to feed the illusion itself and thus never really building any true foundational confidence.

True confidence is letting who you truly are just be, and in that presence, you stand with God.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings & Revelations, p 347


  • [1]

    Websites.sportstg.com. from http://websites.sportstg.com/get_file.cgi?id=242503

  • [2]

    School of hard knocks. (2017). Stuff. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/sport/8660698/The-school-of-hard-knocks

  • [3]

    Pollock, A. (2017). Is rugby too dangerous for children to play?. The Independent. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/is-rugby-too-dangerous-for-children-to-play-9778518.html

  • [4]


  • [5]


    Alan Schwarz, W. (2017). N.F.L.’s Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Tobacco Industry. Nytimes.com. from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/sports/football/nfl-concussion-research-tobacco.html?_r=0

    http:// NFL 'glorifies violence and deliberately covers up risk of injuries from blows to the head,' claims lawsuit from injured players Mail Online from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2306498/NFL-glorifies-violence-deliberately-covers-risk-injuries-blows-head-claims-lawsuit-injured-players.html

    Benes, R. (2017). How the NFL Tried (and Failed) to Sway a Government Study on Concussions. Esquire. from http://www.esquire.com/sports/news/a45145/nfl-government-concussions/

  • [6]

    from Boston University CTE Center. What is CTE? http://www.bu.edu/cte/ about/what-is-cte/. Accessed May 14, 2014.

  • [7]

    December 3, 2012 » CTE Center | Boston University. (2017). Bu.edu., from http://www.bu.edu/cte/news/press-releases/december-3-2012/

    Common Rugby Injuries. (2017). Physioworks.com.au. from http://physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Activities/rugby-union-injuries

  • [8]

    Collins, C., Micheli, L., Yard, E., & Comstock, R. (2008). Injuries Sustained by High School Rugby Players in the United States, 2005-2006. Archives Of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 162(1), 49. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/archpediatrics.2007.1

    http://www.bu.edu/cte/news/press-releases/december-3-2012/in the United States, 2005-2006. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine. 2008;162(1):49- 54.

Filed under

Role modelsHurtConfidence

  • Photography: Rebecca W., UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.