Dr Barry O’Driscoll (www.progressiverugby.com) brands World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative as ‘insulting’

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26 December 2021


This article is sourced from The Rugby Paper

Progressive Rugby member Dr Barry O’Driscoll has condemned world rugby is rain health initiative as insulting to those players suffering from brain damage.

Dr O’Driscoll spoke out in the Boxing Day edition of The Rugby Paper saying the initiative that says dementia can be caused by any one of 12 modifiable risk factors should infuriate those players suffering from brain damage such as World Cup winner Steve Thompson, England flanker Michael Lipman and All Black prop Carl Hayman.

“I find it totally insulting to the Thompsons, the Lipmans, the Haymans, the Pophams and everyone else,” Dr O’Driscoll, who resigned from World Rugby’s medical committee 10 years ago because he felt the governing body were not taking the issue of concussion seriously.

“It’s absolutely dreadful. These are people who have suffered terribly and will go on suffering. World Rugby seems to be trying to dilute the problem by pointing out other ways in which you could be affected. While they were at it, they may as well have said: ‘we’re all going to die eventually’.

“Knocks to the head are just about the last thing they mention. Make no mistake about it, we are talking here not simply about brain damage but permanent brain damage as caused by repeated knocks to the head.

“Why don’t they answer that? Instead they talk about smoking and drinking and not eating properly. They seem to be trying to belittle what has become a huge problem across the rugby-playing world.

“There are hundreds of scientific papers describing what happens to the brain from repeated trauma and why players finish up like this. And yet they’re now being told that it could be because of something else entirely.

“How would you feel to be told that? My reaction would be somewhere between outrage and fury at one end of the spectrum and utter disbelief at the other.”

World Rugby’s Brain Health Initiative was backed by number of independent medical specialists including Professor Craig Ritchie, chair of the psychiatry of ageing at the University of Edinburgh and Professor Willie Stewart, consultant neurologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Glasgow.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “We care deeply about every member of our Rugby family. As a former player myself I appreciate that some players maybe worried about their brain health. We must and are, putting those players at the heart of our welfare plans. Good brain health is much wider than what happens on the field. We have more control over it than you would think.”

“World Rugby seem to be trying to belittle what has become a huge problem across the rugby-playing world.”

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