Former All Blacks and Toulon prop Carl Hayman has joined concussion legal action against rugby authorities, but DARREN REED believes players know the game comes with risk and any claims to the contrary are disingenuous.
I saw stars or had some dizziness after the first scrum of every game I played after the age of 16.
Never mind the tackles I got concussed in or rucks I couldn’t remember hitting just 30 seconds before.
We actually used to joke that if you didn’t see ‘sparklies’ after a scrum, tackle or hitting a ruck you weren’t going hard enough!
I played Craven Week, provincial U21, first-grade club rugby and Vodacom Cup in the front row.
I’m the same age as Carl Hayman. I just want to say upfront I feel terrible for Carl. It must be very scary for him and those close to him.
I don’t want to belittle what he is going through. He played longer, harder and at a way higher level than I could ever dream of. He’s an all-time great.
But what I will say, is that when I was playing, my mates and the general rugby fraternity I was a part of never thought for one second that anything we were doing in pursuit of our passions was healthy.
We all knew, to some extent, that we would likely pay the price later in life in some way.
To this day, I can’t really sleep on my left-hand side because of my shoulder. If you ask me to reach anything above head height, it’s going to have to be with my good arm!
I had seen plenty interviews of the old-time boxing champs my Oupa loved.
I’d heard their slurred speech and seen their slow reflexes and shuffling walks. It didn’t take a massive leap of logic to figure out that what I was doing on the rugby field wasn’t too far removed from that.
Not as acute. Would probably take longer. But the spectre of some sort of long-term mental effect wasn’t some great unknown. Granted, we didn’t have the data we do today. We didn’t have the much-improved safety measures or awareness, which are all welcome additions to the game.
But we weren’t naive either. We knew there would be a price. There was no clarity on what it could be, but if you are going to take the ride, we accepted that price may be a great one.
I wanted to play as hard as I could as at high a level as I could. I loved it and wouldn’t trade it for the world.
To this day, if you put me and 100 other guys I played with or against in a room and offered to send us back in time, to magically grant us the experience of playing 100 caps for the Boks at the risk of early-onset dementia increasing by 50%, and you asked, “who wants in?” I guarantee you almost every hand in that room goes up.
– Reed played prop for Natal at Craven Week in the late-90s and represented the Sharks at hooker in the Vodacom Cup in the early 2000s.