While head clashes in rugby are often a no-fault incident, they happen more often than in the past and at a greater speed and it is only a matter of time before court cases appear regarding some of these clashes.
We are aware of the long-term effects of constant head trauma and as a remedy, I recommend compulsory headgear.
I am envisaging protection that covers the whole head, protecting the skull, forehead and the temples. The design and effectiveness of this should be left to others to decide.
The important part is that it is critical to all players of all ages.
This is not going to be acceptable to many players due to the additional heat they will have to put up with but if the ventilation design is good enough, then the effects of playing on hot days could be acceptable.
Objections may come from those who think that the players will ignore potential head clashes as the headgear will protect them. However, rules regarding high tackles should remain, with the proviso that players ducking into a tackle – no-fault incidents – result in no penalty arising.
I personally suffered a serious injury early on in my playing days, where I was accidentally kicked in the head and went blind for a while. I played out the game but remember nothing of it.
At the end of play, I became disoriented and emotional so I went to hospital for a scan. I did not fracture my skull but since then I get migraines a few times a year – not with headaches, just the distorted vision.
Stricter rule interpretations will not fix the problem of head trauma. The rules are being distorted to encompass a safer game but the result of the changes makes assumptions that players in sub-second real-time will adjust their tackle to ensure there is no contact with the head.
This is a fallacy considering the speed of the game and the reaction time of players.
With reluctance, I suggest it is time for all players to wear head protection.