The topic of concussions in rugby is still hot right now, even if there are actions to making the game safer - and it appears that the number of traumatic brain injuries seems to be reducing. When players are being hit nowadays, there is a better understanding of resting them until they are better.
It wasn't always like this, and some former players are having to deal with the problems from these hits even to this day.
Even the diminutive Welsh legend Shane Williams. In a column in the Rugby Paper, Williams expressed his fear that his lack of concentration and headaches are a direct result of his rugby career.
The 5'7'' former winger was often lauded for being able to survive in a game when players were getting increasingly bigger, and he often took some big hits. According to Williams, he was hit in the head often - but didn't realise at the time that he was getting concussions:
Goodness knows how many bangs I took to the head, but the truth is that I probably suffered a concussion-type injury once every three games I played.
That’s no exaggeration and over a 15-year career that’s a lot of bangs to the head.
Williams says there were many times when he was hit and his head would go blank, he was often left wondering where he was. But because he hadn't been knocked out - he didn't realise that he had been knocked out.
He tells the story of his worst concussion - where he also dislocated his shoulder but his head was so blank he didn't even realise it. It was in 2010 against South Africa, which was also George North's international debut:
I remember – albeit a rather patchy memory – late in the first half I was dump-tackled by Francois Steyn. The impact dislocated my shoulder but also banged my head on the turf.
I don’t remember the next three minutes of the game and having seen it back, I was standing looking the wrong way when I got back to my feet.
I just told myself ‘Shane, you’ve got to pull yourself together and last until half-time’ but because my head was like a fog, my brain didn’t even know that my shoulder was dislocated, even though it was completely out of place.
Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE