FRANCE ROCKED BY THE TRAGIC COST OF RUGBY'S SAFETY CRISIS
- Jeremy Wilson / The Daily Telegraph
Four young French rugby union players died following collisions on the field of play in the space of eight months. After hearing about these tragedies, Jeremy Wilson spent a week travelling across France and speaking with the friends, family and club-mates of the players. The conversations revealed both the devastating human cost and an acute wider concern over rugby’s future. Wilson’s special report combines emotional interviews with some of those most closely affected, alongside the testimony of coaches, former players and neuropathologists who outlined their alarm at rugby’s increasing physicality and the risk of severe brain, chest and spinal injuries. Several leading players, including the former Canada international Cameron Pierce and England forward Tom Palmer, spoke candidly about their own sometimes chilling on-field experiences. Practical solutions were also examined for how rugby can evolve so that skill as well as sheer power can thrive and the game can be made safer. The report prompted significant debate and, in August, World Rugby announced a radical set of six proposed law amendments for trial. They included outlawing tackles above waist height, changes to the kick-off and a limit on penalties and free-kicks.