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"The sport needs to talk to people like Sam Warburton"

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

03:55 22 Jul 2018


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Rugby officials have been urged to seek Sam Warburton’s perspective on the physicality of the game by leading sports lawyer Jack Anderson.

Former Wales and British Lions captain Warburton announced his shock retirement from the sport this week after struggling to overcome a list of injuries that have blighted his career.

Anderson joined Joe Molloy and Gary O’Toole on the Sunday Paper Review to discuss the impact of Warburton’s retirement and whether his exit from the sport should cause a wider impact into how the game is played.

And Anderson believes the sport would benefit from a less physical style in an attempt to reduce the number of players who are forced to retire early.

“Warburton had some incredibly serious injuries and he was an incredibly brave player,” Anderson said.

“Rugby is well aware of the difficulties it has with the physicality of the game and key medics within the sport are really pushing and trying to get the evidence based research on this – to push into the rule changes of it.

“I recently gave a talk on the legalities of concussion down in Limerick University. But it was mainly sports medics who were there. A lot of sports medics who had played rugby said we need to depower the game.

“We need to go back a bit in terms of the future of the sport. Stephen Jones makes a mention about substitutes and how after 50 minutes the whole front-row can be changed and you have all these big guys coming on and do we need to look at these kinds of things.

“The Warburton thing is not a legal thing – it’s a medical and regulatory medical thing. I think the sport needs to talk to people like Sam Warburton and ask him what he thinks after reflecting on his career.

“That’s part of the process as well and I think they’re well aware of that. In Australia, rugby union is under a big threat in terms of youth participation at school level because a lot of parents are thinking rugby as a contact sport isn’t the thing for their child.

“It’s an issue for rugby as a whole but I must admit I always liked watching Warburton – he was a really intelligent back-row player. He annoyed Ireland on many occasions and I wish him the best in his retirement.”

James Hopper

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