European chief wont allow sons to play rugby due to safety concerns – No way

One of European rugby's most senior figures has said he won't allow his sons to play the sport due to concerns over safety, urging lawmakers to enforce changes at the elite level.

Former England centre Simon Halliday stepped down from his role as European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) chairman on Tuesday after serving two terms.

But his children won't follow him into the sport as long as the current safety protocols preside, suggesting the rugby has a way to go before it can properly safeguard players.

Halliday, 61, told the Telegraph those in power must make immediate change in order to increase rugby's appeal at grassroots level, insistent that support in the sport has ebbed as a result over safety fears.

“Change some laws fast," he said.

“Get on with it. Why are you waiting? I am sick and tired of hearing platitudes. Make some decisions. You can commission as many reports as you like, but all I know is that my wife (sic) scared to let my boys play rugby and she will not be the only one.

“She is not a shrinking violet, she loves the game but she says ‘no way am I letting them play when you see the head shots they take.’ Participation levels everywhere are down, down, down. Make decisions and you will bring people back.”

World Rugby recently introduced new guidelines at the professional level, encouraging teams to limit full-contact training to only 15 minutes a week after a study found 35 to 40 per cent of all injuries occur outside match conditions.

That advice was met with mixed reaction from coaches and pundits alike, but the contract training cap can be avoided considering it's not a mandatory rule.

Former Bath and Harlequins star Halliday was left scratching his head with that decision and asked: “If they have the evidence why do they not just act? What are you waiting for?”

Player welfare is a chief concern in rugby following the results of another study published in August found one season in the sport is enough to cause a decline in the brain's cognitive function.

That came after a group of British and Irish Lions legends, led by Sir Ian McGeechan and Sir Gareth Edwards, encouraged World Rugby to all but ban substitutions in a bid to protect players.

Another ex-England international, Steve Thompson, also revealed in September that he'll donate his brain for research having been diagnosed with early onset dementia at the age of 42.

Thompson—a member of England's 2003 Rugby World Cup -winning squad—is part of a group currently suing the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for negligence related to repeated injuries he suffered during his career.

Halliday has left his role as EPCR chairman having overseen positive change in the sport, with new potential for rugby to stage a Club World Cup every four years, beginning in 2024.

Many around the sport have long held desires to see clubs from both hemispheres go head-to-head in an organised competition, which now seems a real possibility despite the current calendar confusion.

With so many strides being made among the professional unions, Halliday's hope to improve safety at all levels is a noble cause at its core.

Rugby still has a long road ahead as it looks to draw big numbers once again following the global pandemic, so much so that even those in top positions aren't at ease with their progeny participating.

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