Player Injuries - Is Rugby Getting Too Physical?

October 27 2014

I was reading the papers over the weekend looking for any prematch banter for the Wales/England match this Saturday, and was really dismayed to find an article in the Mail on Sunday headed:


In a previous blog we talked about the difference in the size, condition and strength of the players in the modern game compared to previous eras, and did touch on what impact this has on the players; however, with all the facts laid out before me, it made for horrifying reading.

Players in New Zealand were asked to undergo tests whilst wearing microchipped mouthguards, and were then recorded being subjected to G-forces in excess of 125g in collisions.  The enormity of this is only apparent when you consider that Formula One drivers are subjected to 6g, albeit for longer periods of time, but we are constantly hearing about the impact of this force on the drivers and until reading the article, I had not given any thought to the pressure exerted upon rugby players.

The 16st 1lb Scotland centre Alex Dunbar was clocked at 21mph when he crossed the line to score his second try against Italy last week.  When you compare this statistic with the fact that Usain Bolt’s average speed is 23.35mph, it’s not hard to see how and why players suffer serious long term injury as well as short term.

The Rugby Players’ Association have recently released figures showing that the number of players who have been forced into taking early retirement from the game has increased 80% in the last three years.  The stress put on the body over a 10 year period of top level rugby and grueling rugby workouts is becoming harder and harder for people to walk away from unscathed and it is projected that 2 players per club will retire this year, long before they expected to.

Eight of Stuart Lancaster’s first choice line-up were  injured at the start of the Six Nations.  Lancaster is now seriously looking into how much time his players are allowed “off games”.  The human body can not continue to perform at top level all year round when it is taking the punishment currently meted out.

Lord Addington has tabled a question in the House of Lord’s raising the issue of how much is being done to educate players on the danger of this fine sport.  This week a delegation of MPs, Lords, sports administrators and medical staff are taking part in a discussion to try to ensure the safety of future players.

We all love the gladiatorial nature of the “beautifully brutal” game of modern rugby, but none of us want to see these fine sportsmen facing injury and uncertain future in the name of sports entertainment.  I fervently hope that the players’ health and safety becomes paramount. With all this in mind, the need to wear rugby protection is absolutely paramount.