CHRIS FOY: Ben Kay’s fear that rugby might not exist 50 years from now due to players’ poor security is a stern warning that requires urgent action
- Ben Kay says rugby may not be here in 50 years due to lack of player support
- More ex-players are reporting stories of chronic health problems
- Kay is concerned that future generations will be taken away for their own good
When Ben Kay warns that rugby may not exist 50 years from now without a serious and sustained commitment to improving players’ safety, it is not screaming. This is the harsh reality.
More and more ex-gamers are making disturbing stories of chronic health problems. The looming legal challenge faced by the game’s authorities is said to be a costly and devastating saga, but also a life line in the sand.
Without the willingness to accept fundamental changes urgently, rugby will not survive. Kay is right. She is also right to emphasize how important the parents’ concerns will be. If future generations are removed from sport for their own sake, it cannot go on.
Ben Kay says rugby may not be here in 50 years due to weak player safety protocols
Adults may want to weigh the facts and put themselves at risk, but parents will not want to send their children on a sports path that can lead to early-onset dementia and other tragic events.
Kay and other former gamers are taking a step forward to help gain scientific knowledge, but that alone is not enough. Dealing with head contact is not enough either. There must be an even deeper cultural change.
It will come as a shock to those who enjoy rugby collisions and the confrontational nature, but these elements of the game will have to be overshadowed by a greater emphasis on speed, space and skill.
Kay is concerned that future generations will be diverted from sports for their own good
Minor tweaks to the law reach a certain amount, but more decisive action may be required – be it reducing the number of players on the field or banning the failure zone altogether.
Those who want to defend the status quo can do so and the sport will disappear.
Only by accepting a faster, more open game compared to the current high-impact version can rugby survive and prosper.