December 2, 2004

Hi guys,
Well done on the hard fought win.

I heard through the “grapevine” that there were

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some guys who were concussed during the weekend's matches. I heard that this was not the first concussion for some of the guys, and I have been asked to send the club an email about my specific experience with concussions.

As some of you know, the issue of concussions if near and dear to me.
Having to retire from playing rugby at the age of 30, due to several concussions in one season, was not how I planned to end my playing career. However, it was probably the best decision I ever made. Here are some things to think about in regards to concussions, for those of you who have suffered them recently. No need to reply to this email, just think about this info and make the correct decision…

1) ALL neurological studies in the past 10 years have indicated that repeated concussions can lead to brain damage later in life.
2) The IRB (international rugby board) now requires a 2-3 week ban on contact after a player suffers an initial concussion. They do this for a reason, to keep rugby players from having brain damage later in life.
This is a requirement of the IRB, not a suggestion. (See the attached medical regulations PDF file.)

3) We all know that you are born with roughly all of the brain cells you will ever have, and that you kill brain cells off throughout your life via stress on the brain (drinking, drugs, environmental stress, etc.). This is usually minor stuff in terms of the number of brain cells you kill off, and the remaining number of brain cells that you have. However, during a severe concussion there are so many brain cells that are killed, that people can literally lose significant portions of their memories after just 2 concussions repeated within a short time period.

4) Finally, think about this…I was told by a team of doctors that due to the repeated concussions I received during a single rugby season that there was a possibility of significant memory loss later in life if I continued to play rugby. I was given a choice between continuing to play rugby and being able to remember my children's names in the future. Those of you who know me, know that I love the game of rugby, but given those two options this really wasn't a hard choice for me to make.

The only thing I wish I could change was that I made a smarter decision after receiving my initial concussion. I should have taken 2-3 weeks off from contact. However, I was the captain of Old Gold at the time, and I made a very dumb decision with my heart to continue playing in every game.

The bottom line is that if you receive a concussion in a game, you should make a smart decision and take your 2-3 weeks off from contact.
Also, purchase and wear a scrum cap during every training and game from then on.

A good link about concussions: click here

Best Regards,
Stan Tasker