New medical panel could address increased rugby injury claims

Posted Nov 16, 2018.
A leading personal injury and negligence lawyer is recommending that professional rugby in England now needs a new, independent medical panel to help stem the tide of injury claims in the game. Such a panel would analyse the most common types of injury, asses trends and provide recommendations to help minimise risk to players. As well as helping to minimise game and training injuries to individual players, such advice would also help to protect clubs and governing body the RFU (Rugby Football Union) from future legal action.

Injuries causing retirement

Although changes are already being implemented from 2019-20 to allow for longer rest periods between games, the current 2018-19 season has seen a number of high profile retirements as a result of injuries.:

Sam Warburton, former Wales and Lions Captain and widely regarded as one of Wales’ best ever players, was forced to retire at just 29 as a result of persistent shoulder and neck injuries

Jean Deysel, a South African professional with Irish province Ulster has retired this season due to neck injuries

Former Sale scrum-half Cillian Willis was forced to retire after being concussed in a game in 2013. Willis claims that despite the concussion, he was allowed to play on and suffered additional injuries to his head. As a result, the 33 year old is taking legal action against his club and two doctors

In recommending the establishment of an independent medical panel, lawyer Stephen Baylis said:

“Clubs have a duty of care to players. Injuries do seem to be on the increase: what that is down to is for a medical specialist to answer, not a lawyer, but there needs to be more sharing of medical literature about the prevalence of injuries and trends”

He continued:

“Clubs will have been put on alert by what has happened in America, in ice hockey as well as American football, over concussion levels. Issues to be looked at include whether over-training causes  weaknesses or too much time lifting heavy weights can predispose players to injuries. Law changes can help, such as tackle height, and the sport has to do all that is practicable to protect players.”