Former Lions and Saracens hooker Ethienne Reynecke says concussion remains a massive issue for World Rugby especially at schools level. DYLAN JACK reports.
The ex-player has had his own struggles with brain injury as he continues to recover from a stroke he suffered in 2018. He has restarted his MMA career and recently won the IMMAF (International Mixed Martial Arts Federation) South African Championship, becoming the light-heavyweight champion for South Africa.
Reynecke has also done extensive research on the issue of concussion. In 2016, he started a business called Biomarker Science, which looked at in-vitro testing for concussion.
He also put together a case study on using individual players’ genetic predisposition to micro manage them, working alongside Dr Daniel Meyersfeld, who has a PhD in molecular biology. The case was never formally presented to SA Rugby, but there were allegedly talks between Meyersfield and Rassie Erasmus at the time.
World Rugby has implemented its own steps against concussion to aid with player management. As part of their recommendations, players suspected of a concussion should immediately be removed from play or training. The player should then undergo a head impact assessment (HIA) which lasts for 10 minutes starting when the player leaves the field of play.
However, Reynecke told SARugbymag.co.za that more cane be done, especially at a semi-professional and schools rugby level.
‘Rugby is a very violent sport. The MMA guys say it is barbarous. But if you think about it, in MMA or boxing, if a guy gets technically knocked out [TKO], the referee stops the fight. They don’t restart the fight after 10 minutes.
‘In rugby they send a guy for a check and might send him back on. That is barbarous. It’s bad like that at professional level, but can you think how bad it is at school?
‘I have said it many times, the chickens are going to come home to roost for World Rugby at some time with concussion.
‘You must remember that NFL is one entity in one country. With World Rugby, who takes the responsibility? Legally, it is such a grey area.
‘World Rugby doesn’t have the money that the NFL has. NFL is one of the richest entities in the world, it can cope. Rugby can’t do that. That is why I feel that they need to take this a little bit more seriously.
‘The stories that I have heard … moms have called me and told me about kids that have had to do their Grade 8 again because they had a concussion. It wasn’t taken seriously and they were allowed to play again and keep training.’
Reynecke was talking to SA Rugby magazine as part of a feature which looks at his adventure into the world of mixed martial arts.
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