Fogarty calls for 'brain bin' to assess head injuries
FORMER Leinster hooker John Fogarty has called on the powers that run rugby to introduce temporary substitutions for head injuries.
The Tipperary man, who made his Ireland debut on the summer tour earlier this year, was forced to retire from rugby last month as a result of repeated concussions and has come out strongly about the issue alongside his former team-mate Bernard Jackman, who endured similar injuries.
Fogarty blames his tackling technique for the head injuries that began to dominate his life last year as he started to suffer from headaches that affected his family life.
And he reckons one way of helping to limit the damage being done at all levels of the game would be to allow players to come off temporarily to be assessed by experts before being allowed to continue.
"There needs to be something done in the sport to assess players better on the pitch," he said. "Possibly taking players off the pitch for a minute or two, like a 'brain bin'. It sounds awful -- but something like this is not a bad idea. A player can be assessed properly because a player who's down just wants to get back into the game quickly."
Fogarty was speaking at yesterday's launch of ABI (Acquired Brain Injury) Ireland Guide to Brain Injury and he was joined by Munster's Denis Leamy, who backed his calls.
"If it can be done for a blood injury, why can't it be done for a suspected concussion?" Leamy asked. "Maybe somebody's just dizzy or dazed. It's happened to anyone who has played rugby, you get a knock and they are rattled for a few minutes and they then can play on. But the doctors should be given the time to make that assessment."
Fogarty is an example for all players currently playing. Leamy acknowledged that his and Jackman's comments have been discussed in the Munster dressing-room and you suspect it's been the same around the country.
And that's the message Fogarty is hoping to get across. He admits watching Leinster taking to the bearpit in Clermont left him a little jealous, but he knows he made the right decision to go when he did.
"It's hard," he said. "The Heineken Cup weeks are brilliant. There is such a good atmosphere around them and there is some part of you that's disappointed you can't be involved.
"I'm happier now that I'm finished. It took me a couple of weeks to get my head around that.
"But I'm glad I'm not getting bangs on the head, to be honest, because it got too much in the end. My attitude completely changed -- from taking a bang to the head and thinking it wasn't much of an issue for me, to taking it seriously."