Rugby is more dangerous since going pro in 1995 and players are terrified of the effect huge tackles are having on the brain, study suggests, as scientists urge for immediate change in the rules

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  • Stars who played after 1995 were more likely to have a permanent head injury
  • A survey also found that 62 percent of people involved in the sport are afraid of heavy tackle.
  • This increases to 73 percent for parents who don’t play but whose child does.
  • 61 percent said that since 1995 rugby is more dangerous at all levels

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Rugby has become more dangerous since the sport has become pro, a study shows and has left most players apprehensive about the long-term effects on their brain.

Stars who have played since 1995 – when they began to be paid to play – are more likely to have a permanent head trauma than those who retired before this date.

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A survey involving research found that 62 percent of people involved in sports fear that heavy tackles can damage their brains.

It rose even more to 73 percent for parents who do not play but whose children are getting involved in sports.

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Meanwhile, 61 percent of those asked said they thought rugby had become more dangerous at all levels since the sport turned professional.

The related findings have revived calls for an urgent review of rugby union laws to make it safer in all disciplines.

Former England captain Lewis Moody welcomed the study and said it was ‘important’ to understand the health effects that go into rugby first.

It comes amid widespread attention to the impact of devastating head injuries in sport, with a renewed focus in recent months on football players.

English football announced a ban on the title among adults in July, meaning professional players are limited to 10 ‘high-force’ headers per training week.

One study shows that stars who played since 1995 – when they were being paid to play – were more likely to suffer a permanent head trauma than those who retired before this date. Pictured: Former English rugby union fullback Jonathan Webb taking part in study

The Drake Foundation and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine worked with 146 former elite rugby players, mostly from before 1995 when the sport turned pro and competed for either England, the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.  Pictured: Former English rugby union fullback Jonathan Webb taking part in study

The Drake Foundation and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine worked with 146 former elite rugby players, mostly from before 1995 when the sport turned pro and competed for either England, the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge. Pictured: Former English rugby union fullback Jonathan Webb taking part in study

The Brain study found that stars who had received tremors three times had no significant effect on cognitive function before they turned 75, compared to those who had three.  Pictured: Former English rugby union fullback Jonathan Webb taking part in study

The Brain study found that stars who had received tremors three times had no significant effect on cognitive function before they turned 75, compared to those who had three. Pictured: Former English rugby union fullback Jonathan Webb taking part in study

Former rugby players who have been diagnosed with dementia:

  • Steve Thompson
  • Dan Scarbrough
  • Adam Hughes
  • Neil Spence
  • Alix Popham
  • Michael Lippman
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The Drake Foundation and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine worked with 146 former elite rugby players, mostly from before 1995 when the sport turned pro and competed for either England, the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.

The brain study found that stars who had had three strokes had no significant effect on cognitive function before they turned 75, compared with those who had fewer than three.

It did not see an overall group relationship between concussion history and worse cognitive function.

But tests found that 29 percent of those over 75 who had suffered three or more rugby-related tremors during their careers had significantly poorer cognitive function.

Earlier this year the Drake Rugby Biomarker Study found that a fifth – 23 percent – of post-professional-age athletes have abnormalities in brain structure and half have changes in brain volume.

He said this raises urgent questions about the direction of safety in rugby since 1995 and called for immediate changes to the laws of the game.

Recently several ex-stars have suffered early brain problems, including Steve Thompson, who has been diagnosed with dementia at the age of only 43.

There has also been an increase in former athletes suffering from other brain defects, such as possible CTE, which has also been linked to American football players.

Meanwhile a separate survey by the Drake Foundation of 508 people this month found that 62 percent of those involved in rugby union are concerned about its long-term effects on brain health.

But it increased to 73 percent for adults who do not play sports but whose children do.

Nearly two-thirds – 61 percent – said they felt rugby had become more dangerous at all levels since turning professional.

And 66 percent said they felt a fundamental change in laws was needed to make the sport safer.

Concerns in Rugby:

As a contact sport, rugby involves the risk of repeated body impacts and accidental head impacts, and therefore carries a significant potential risk of concussion.

According to data collected through the RFU’s Community Injury Surveillance and Prevention Program (CRISP) in aged rugby (ages 15 – 18), the most recently shown rate is 1 concussion per team every 10 games and every 25. The game is equal to 1 concussion per team. Adult men’s rugby.

In professional rugby it happens 1 in every 2-3 team games.

The increase in rates seen since 2012/13 is almost certainly due to increased awareness and a very low threshold for suspected concussion, and reflects the success of awareness and education programs and media coverage.

Source: England Rugby

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The Drake Foundation, which published its results today in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, is urging a review of the rules of the game to protect participants.

Its study worked with 146 ex-elite rugby players aged 50 and over in England – most of whom played in the pre-professional era – to examine brain health trends.

The participants underwent extensive tests to capture questions about physical and cognitive abilities as well as their history of play and movement.

Researchers said the decline in cognitive function may come at such an early age because players are generally more educated than high…

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