Spotlight on rugby’s unspoken reality
SPOTLIGHT: Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says World Rugby has been doing a good job regarding player safety and preventing head injuries in the modern game.
In the wake of former All Black prop Carl Hayman’s dementia diagnosis, concussion in rugby and the fallout for players later in life have become a highly debated topic.
Hayman, who earned 45 Test caps and played extensively in Europe after international retirement in 2007, revealed on Wednesday he has early-onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a neurodegenerative disease at just 41-years-old.
The diagnosis prompted him to join the ongoing lawsuit brought by similarly affected former players, including England’s Steve Thompson and Alix Popham of Wales, against the sport’s governing bodies.
The basis of the players’ claim is that World Rugby and other authorities failed to provide sufficient protection when the risks of concussion and sub-concussive injuries were known and foreseeable.
The issue is certainly one that needs to be addressed given feature given the nature of the game.
Springbok captain Kolisi expressed sympathy towards the All Black legend Hayman and stated the World Rugby has been implementing protocols like the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) in games that safeguard players, especially in the modern era.
“I really feel for Carl and wish him well – it is a very tough situation to deal with,” Kolisi said during a media briefing.
“I do think what World Rugby has been doing in regarding player safety has been working well.
“The protocols are getting stricter and stricter each year to safeguard us,”
The 30-year-old recently experienced an injury scare during his team’s 31-29 Rugby Championship win against All Blacks.
In the match, Kolisi was left lying motionless on the ground after taking what appeared to be a knock to the head or neck area.
The medical staff rushed to the aid of Kolisi, who appeared panicked and was stretchered off.
“I recall the last game when I was injured, and how quickly people reacted.
“I remembered how Elton [Jantjies, the Springbok flyhalf] reacted to alert the referee.
“Those are the type of things, whether opposition or not, which help us all to keep the game safe.
He added: “I know World Rugby and the medical staff have our best interests at heart.”
Concussion has become a major issue in sports, with a similar lawsuit launched against the English rugby league last month and American football’s NFL authorities reportedly paying out hundreds of millions in compensation to injured players.