Tuesday 28 March 2017

O'Driscoll outlines multiple concussion fears

Former Leinster and Ireland player Victor Costello has urged Leo Cullen to allow Sexton take the rest of the season off once the Six Nations finishes (SPORTSFILE)
Former Leinster and Ireland player Victor Costello has urged Leo Cullen to allow Sexton take the rest of the season off once the Six Nations finishes (SPORTSFILE)
David Kelly

David Kelly

Former World Rugby medical adviser Dr Barry O'Driscoll has outlined how an increasing number of rugby players may have to retire due to increased awareness of concussion.

And Dr O'Driscoll, former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll's uncle, also believes that players who suffer three or more concussions should "seriously think about their future."

Ireland out-half Jonathan Sexton has sustained four concussions and, although his last three injuries were not concussive - whiplash, neck and a "bang to the head" which did not lead to concussion - there is growing concern about the player's welfare.

Former Ireland captains Brian O'Driscoll and Keith Wood have encouraged the player to alter his tackling technique while another, Donal Lenihan, suggested that a "serious call" needed to be made about his well-being.

And writing in today's Leinster Rugby supplement in the Irish Independent, former Leinster and Ireland player Victor Costello has urged Leo Cullen to allow Sexton take the rest of the season off once the Six Nations finishes.

"Sexton has been battered around the trenches of international and provincial rugby this season and given that so far nobody has done it, it is up to Leinster, his home province and club, to make the brave call of giving him the rest of the season off," writes Costello.

"Not that he will ask for it or want it but he should be told to rest for this season with a long-term view taken for the well-being of him while investing in his future and in the province."

However, Sexton, who has been injured in three successive games, has shrugged off any lingering concerns about the issue.

"We see the best neurologists and they tell us if we're going to play or not based on tests done by the best specialists," he told this newspaper earlier this month.

But Dr O'Driscoll has admitted that the increased awareness of the frightening consequences of concussion may begin to force the hands of medical experts.

"We have moved on with our knowledge and we're more ready to advise players to retire," he said.

"Every case of this saddens you and worries you just that little bit more.

"It does seem that these repeated sub-concussive and concussive knocks are becoming more damaging more frequently.

"I don't think we're anywhere near the stage of the game of saying 'no, that's it, we can't pick you anymore', (because) we don't know enough yet.

"But any player at all who has had three or four concussions must seriously think about the future."

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