High school athlete dies after ‘freak accident’ during rugby game

MONTAGUE, P.E.I. — A high school has withdrawn from P.E.I. schools’ rugby league for the season following the death of a student athlete who sustained brain injuries on the field.

Montague Regional High School has confirmed the death of Brodie McCarthy, 18, from a brain injury sustained during a rugby tournament in Summerside.

“Brodie was one of the nicest kids you could ever meet,” Seana Evans-Renaud, the school’s principal, said in a phone interview Monday.

She said McCarthy was injured during a routine play at the David Voye Memorial Rugby Tournament which resulted in bleeding from two different parts of his brain.

He was taken to a Summerside hospital and then transported to Moncton, where doctors conducted surgery on his brain Friday night.

On Saturday, doctors conducted a CAT scan which revealed no brain activity, Evans-Renaud said.

Phil Bridges, school sport coordinator for the P.E.I. School Athletic Association, confirmed Monday that the Montague school’s boys and girls’ teams have withdrawn from their leagues for the season.

He said that the association has cancelled or postponed rugby games that were scheduled for this week.

“Out of respect for the family, for the Montague regional school, the community of Montague and the entire rugby community, the PEISAA has cancelled or postponed the games that were scheduled to be played this week,” Bridges said in a phone interview.

Evans-Renaud said McCarthy’s parents donated his organs because, a month earlier, he expressed to them if anything were to happen to him, that’s what he would have wanted.

“One of the teachers said, ‘You could never get mad at him.’ He was just always smiling, always being an all-around good guy, good friend and a good brother.”

The teenager would have graduated in June.

McCarthy was an avid athlete, Evans-Renaud said, and excelled in multiple sports. He helped lead the Kings County Kings Midget AAA hockey team to several victories during the 2017-2018 season.

Rob Newson, the executive director of Hockey P.E.I., said he was saddened to hear about McCarthy’s death in a “freak accident.”

The boy’s parents were very active in the hockey community; his father, David, was a coach for the midget AA team while mother Lisa was a trainer for the team as well, he said.

“It’s going to impact the family and community for a long time to come. We share their pain within the hockey community as well,” Newson said. “When something like this happens, it impacts us all.”

A GoFundMe page created to help cover the McCarthy family’s costs had already surpassed its $10,000 goal within 18 hours.

According to Statistics Canada, rugby was the third most common sport in which 15- to 19-year-old males sustained concussions and other brain injuries between 2012 and 2014, behind ice hockey and football.

In 2013, Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old high school rugby player from Ottawa, suffered two concussions in one week before sustaining a third during a rugby game that led to her death two days later.

In March, Ontario passed Rowan’s Law, concussion safety legislation designed to protect amateur athletes and educate coaches about the dangers of head injuries. It is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

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