Watching the 2nd week of the Six Nations unfold this weekend I was struck by the number of players suffering head injuries.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, the game has been getting increasingly brutal for years now and incidents of concussion and head injuries are very much at front of media scrutiny.
However, while it is clear from the increased focus on head injury protocols that the powers that be are taking the issue seriously, no one seems to be thinking about addressing the causes of such injuries.
I’m sure there’s no easy solution, but it strikes me that addressing the tendency of players to tackle high might be a start.
Take Jamie Roberts for example. His second half hit on Blair Cowan on Saturday - which saw him launch his considerable frame at Cowan’s upper chest and shoulder area with the inevitable consequence that contact was made with the Scot’s head – was, simply, dangerous. Roberts performed a similar assault (I really can’t describe it as a tackle, after all) on Robbie Henshaw last week and until the authorities outlaw the chest high impact tackle (and Roberts is by no means unique in his approach to tackling), head injuries will continue to proliferate.
It could be coincidental, but on a weekly basis I also see players in my son’s Under 13 team attempting chest high tackling rather than focussing on what they have been taught, that is to tackle around the waist and slide down to grip the legs. If all they see at professional level is players trying to smash one another at chest level then I guess it should come as no surprise that young players should try to follow suit.
One thing is for sure, it’s an issue that is going to have to be addressed if the game is to have a healthy future.