After a long rugby league career I wasn’t getting out without a scratch. But the news shocked me
When the test results came back I was half-expecting negative news. I’d played nearly 250 games of rugby league and been concussed over a dozen times. I wasn’t getting out without a scratch.
But “irreversible long-term brain damage”? It hit me right in the guts.
Workload is up, wages are up, and severe injuries are up – rugby union can’t keep explaining away the number of absent players by saying it is the nature of the game. It never used to be
Aaron Carpenter is a rugby man, and has been since he was 13 and his brother first taught him how to play. Carpenter played 80 games for Canada, which is a national record, and hundreds more for Coventry, Cornish Pirates, Doncaster Knights, and a bunch of other sides, including, when his schedule allowed, his home town team the Brantford Harlequins, where his mum is the club treasurer. He is the kind of player you will know much of only if he happened to play for your team. Then you will remember him very well, because he could never do enough for his club. He played hooker or No 8, wherever his team most needed him.
A couple of weeks back, Carpenter quit. He had taken three blows to the head in a row. They were not bad but they did not need to be. A lot of players have had to make similar decisions. The RFU’s statistics show 44 professional players have quit the English leagues because of assorted injuries in the last three years. The day after Carpenter, the Scotland full-back Peter Murchie announced he was retiring on medical advice too, a couple of days before his 32nd birthday.