Rugby

Donncha O'Callaghan On What Needs Happen To Stop Head Injuries

Donncha O'Callaghan On What Needs Happen To Stop Head Injuries

During their clash with Exeter last Saturday, Leinster were dealt a huge blow when after just two minutes Johnny Sexton was taken off for a HIA. He did not return.

Sexton shot up to make a tackle deep in his 22'. In doing so he was upright. This is a growing problem in rugby. Increasingly, the tackle is about 'man and ball' as players are fearful of the off-load or hope to execute a 'choke' tackle.

Sean Cronin also lost a front tooth when attempting a tackle.

Speaking tonight on Newstalk's Off The Ball, Donnacha O'Callaghan suggested the increase of head injury assessment's needs to be addressed as it is a "blight on the game."

The press from the defensive line is so aggressive at the moment that you're getting, to quote Stephen Ferris, 'man and ball' with every pass. It's hard to break down and, I'll be honest with you, when it comes to collisions you try to find any hard area to take it into contact so if it's your head, your shoulder, your elbows, your knees, you try to nearly protect your body.

I don't know, it's just something you tend to do on carries. We're definitely having an awful lot of head-shots at the moment.

Eddie O'Sullivan agreed with O'Callaghan's analysis, while also blaming the declining use of the low-tackle for the problem.

The issue with concussion injuries, as the NFL has so brutally demonstrated, is that the authorities find it difficult to address them without changing the structural integrity of the game. You can't police tackling technique or the pace a ball-carrier travels at without fundamentally altering the game.

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As both O'Callaghan and O'Sullivan suggested, a solution lies in player's approach. Either the technique of the tackle or more expansive rugby, without one-off head-on crash balls, would reduce the risk of a head injury.

And as the former Munster man pointed out, attacking rugby isn't only beneficial to the viewer, it's safer too:

Rugby I'd love my kids to play.

you can hear the full conversation in full here.

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Maurice Brosnan

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