Rugby Canada says sport has good safety record, despite two deaths in five years

Rugby Canada’s CEO says major traumatic injuries like one that killed a P.E.I. teenager are rare despite the lack of protective gear because players are trained to safely tackle opponents and respect each other’s safety.

Allen Vansen said Wednesday that he was incredibly saddened to hear about the death of Brodie McCarthy, an 18-year-old high schooler who sustained a fatal brain injury during a rugby tournament last Friday.

“We’re incredibly saddened to receive that news and all our immediate thoughts and prayers were on Brodie’s family, his friends and teammates, the entire community of Montague and his school,” Vansen said.

But he said McCarthy’s sudden death — five years after the death of Ottawa teen Rowan Stringer after multiple on-field concussions — should not deter other teens from playing the sport.

“It’s not a sport that has as much major physical trauma that may be perceived out of a very unfortunate incident like this,” he said.

Vansen said rugby is like any other contact sport, but unlike football and hockey, players are trained to be more mindful of each other’s safety.

“Rugby is a sport that is founded on very strong values of respect for each other and respect for competitors,” Vansen said. “You are taught to tackle in a smart way and in a way that is meant to protect yourself and the opponent you are tackling.”

Although players do not wear helmets or protective gear, they are trained to tackle below the shoulders and to immediately recognize when they or others are hurt.

“Our mantra is always ‘if in doubt, sit them out.’”

Vansen said Rugby Canada follows strict protocols when it comes to assessing the risks and recognizing concussions and other brain injuries on the field.

Rugby Canada’s PlaySmart program was launched in 2016 to educate members and provincial unions on the risk of head injuries on the field and how to properly manage and report them.

“Any player with concussion or suspected concussion should be immediately and permanently removed from training or play,” the Rugby Canada website says.

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.

Just Posted

Red Deer’s Craig Schmitt placed first once again at Woody’s Marathon

When Craig Schmitt runs in the annual Woody’s RV Marathon in Red… Continue reading

Life and death: Mistake sent one family to funeral home, the other to hospital

Doctors told Jody Littlewolf that her daughter was brain dead and should… Continue reading

‘Still beautiful:’ Waterton Lakes National Park prepares for life after fire

WATERTON, Alta. — Parks Canada officials and businesses in Waterton say there… Continue reading

British royal family thanks those who celebrated wedding

LONDON — The royal family, blessed with fantastic weather and a buoyant… Continue reading

Cougar kills 1 mountain biker, injures 2nd near Seattle

NORTH BEND, Wash. — Two friends on a morning mountain bike ride… Continue reading

Red Deer Silhouettes prepare for year-end show

Synchronized swimming team will perform its last show this season May 30

One dead in collision west of Sundre

A 30-year-old Cochrane resident is dead after a single vehicle collision in… Continue reading

How a 94-year-old retiree became a gym rat

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Like many gym rats, Paul Russell lifts weights… Continue reading

‘Like a warzone:’ People evacuated as fires burn through Manitoba city’s downtown

BRANDON, Man. — Leanne Marlow saw the flames engulf the building across… Continue reading

Canadians celebrate mix of pageantry, modern twists in royal wedding

As the freshly minted Duke and Duchess of Sussex embark on married… Continue reading

Maduro favoured as Venezuelans vote amid crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to win a… Continue reading

Family, friends recall shooting victims’ optimism, humour

SANTA FE, Texas — Hardworking. Funny. Loving. Grieving family and friends recalled… Continue reading

Record Everest climber returns, already planning next trip

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A veteran Sherpa guide who scaled Mount Everest for… Continue reading

WATCH: First Red Deer Market of the year

Hundreds came out to the first farmers market of 2018 Saturday

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month