Concussion concerns could change tackling, says Cane

31 Jan, 2017 10:33 am

DUBLIN – Growing concerns about concussions, coupled with the harder line taken by World Rugby on contact with the head, could make players think twice before blasting into tackles to dominate collisions, says All Blacks flanker Sam Cane.

Cane was at the centre of a storm last November when he inadvertently made contact with the head of Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw during their bruising test in Dublin.

Henshaw was knocked unconscious and stood down due to concussion and while the New Zealand flanker was penalised at the time and then cited, he was cleared of any wrongdoing at a disciplinary hearing.

The 25-year-old was booed by the Dublin crowd, and later vilified by Northern Hemisphere media, over the incident but maintained he had not meant to make contact with Henshaw’s head and said he had sent him a text message the following day.

“Rugby is about dominating collisions but if we are risking concussions then it’s not really worth it,” Cane told reporters on Tuesday in Hamilton, where he is training with the Waikato Chiefs ahead of the new Super Rugby season.

“The biggest collisions happen when you try to make a dominant tackle and tackle with a lot of force and it’s hard to adjust late, so we’re going to have to be slightly more passive.”

Earlier this month, World Rugby ordered referees to take a harder line regarding tackles that make contact with the head in an effort to combat growing concerns over concussion.

The All Blacks have also had been hit by a number of concussion-related injuries, with lock James Broadhurst and centre Charlie Ngatai missing huge chunks of the last couple of seasons due to concussion symptoms.


Cane said his own experience of dealing with concussion had brought it home the importance of player safety.

“I’ve had to deal with a couple of concussions myself and it’s not a nice thing,” he added. “So maybe we have to be a little smarter and not go in as forcefully as you’d like to.”

However, Cane said that it can often be difficult for players to avoid inadvertent blows to the head and that the tackle on Henshaw had been a result of the Irishman’s movement.

“I anticipated he was going to move back into that space but Robbie did a pirouette on the spot, which is very rarely seen on rugby field,” Cane added. “As he did his body height dropped. I had already committed to the tackle and made contact to his head.

“One view it looked definitely it was head on head, and then there’s another view it looks like shoulder on head. “If you put it on a time frame within the space of a third of a second, my force going one way and his movement … it’s just one of those unfortunate incidents in rugby where the collisions happen really quickly.” -Reuters




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