Sunday, October 1

World Rugby’s Cynical Deviation On Brain Injuries Is An Insult To Players | Rugby union

Sor they are not brain injuries after all. Those rugby players diagnosed with dementia in their early 40s, constantly growing in number, should feel comforted in knowing that the repetitive brain trauma they suffered in their playing careers is just one of 12 modifiable risk factors that could have contributed. to your conditions.

This is the latest angle that World Rugby has come up with as the stance continues ahead of the impending lawsuits. Here we are, nearly a year since rugby union was rocked by the news that eight of its former players were suing the sport after their dementia diagnoses, and many more, now hundreds, waiting behind the scenes with more symptoms. And World Rugby continues to drift.

In an extraordinarily callous press release and accompanying video, the global gaming governing body declares that brain health is a function of lifestyle choices, that dementia can be kept at bay, that there is so much that everyone we can do. That depends on the players, in other words. Again.

This is in a family basket of policies long favored by World Rugby, which could be labeled: Blaming the players. The same goes for the high tackle and red card fiasco. This is not our problem; They are those mischievous players who keep making contact with the heads of others.

This time around, World Rugby is effectively telling the players, don’t drink, don’t smoke, eat right, keep exercising, keep an active social life, do the crossword – for the rest of your natural lives – and everything will be fine.

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Throughout the brain health video, the 12 modifiable risk factors appear in a circle on the screen, like a ghostly clock. If you stop it, you may find a brain injury among others. There he is at one, wedged between obesity at two and “less educated” (yes, really) in a position of pride at 12.

It is true that the brains of people with higher IQ and / or education levels are more resistant to the corruptions of those insane creatures that accumulate in so many circuits over time. However, everyone knows what good it is for a retired rugby player to be pointed out at that.

Which does not deny the validity of any of these recommendations, but these are general lessons for all of us. Complying with them will minimize the risk of developing dementia in old age and even, generally, of becoming one of the unfortunate five percent of cases that develop it before the age of 65.

But those diagnosed with dementia in their 30s, 40s, or 50s are in a very different category. You could consume alcohol and nicotine 24 hours a day without leaving your house (“lack of social interaction”, at five), which is next to a factory (“air pollution” at seven), and your chances of developing dementia at age 40 would be extremely small.

If unhealthy living were even vaguely as important as a repeat brain injury, we’d already be inundated with cases of early-onset dementia from the amateur era, when players were, say, a lot less meticulous about their lifestyle choices.

It is offensive to Carl Hayman (41 at the time of diagnosis), Steve Thompson (42), Alix Popham (40), Michael Lipman (40) and their families, to name just a few, when the governors of the sport to which they gave so much It implies that their devastating conditions could be, even in part, the result of their own “modifiable” lifestyle choices. To see the role of brain injury in your plight if not completely overlooked, at least relegate yourself to the status of too-ran, one of 12 …

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The shame is that this approach is so unnecessary as it clouds the announcement of the brain clinic World Rugby is introducing, which is an unmistakably good thing, even if we anxiously await any findings.

As independent studies continue to decline, documenting brain damage to players currently in action, who live rigorously by the professional athlete’s code, fear is what a comprehensive audit of the brains of those now retired would reveal.

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Meanwhile, it is clear that the chances of all of this being resolved in a civilized way are as small as Rab C Nesbitt developing dementia at the end of the first series. By continuing to deviate, World Rugby is making obvious its intention to hold players accountable before they play their own sport. A few months ago, The Guardian discovered his attempt to massage the 2019 Rugby World Cup data to distinguish that rugby is becoming safer than it actually is.

This latest cynical airbrushing exercise is from the same playbook. As always, it is the players who suffer.

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