Scrums and spinal injuries
NZH's Chris Rattue puts down his wind-up toy flamethrower for the morning and looks at Rugby's alarming list of forward casualties:
A neck injury has forced Derren Witcombe to call it quits at 28 - before catastrophe strikes. A great bloke leaves on a high, the Auckland rugby media release cried out in the names of the great and the good.
This is a day to celebrate because Witcombe is able to walk, yes really walk, away from playing rugby. The usual nerve damage and arthritis felt by old front rankers will seem like a fair swap.
Like many combatants from the coal face of the rugby scrum, Witcombe has had to announce that he wants to enjoy a full life. Witcombe is not alone. He is part of a rugby wreck. [...]
The IRB and all must keep searching, asking the questions, burning the flame. Because this is a crisis.
Rattue provides a list of notable forward casualties that, whilst not quite as long as the list of professional wrestling fatalities, is nevertheless cause for concern. Hopefully the new IRB scrum laws implemented this past season will show a decline in the number and rate of "freak accidents" for front-rowers, and rugby union won't (god forbid) have to downgrade itself to using ritualized uncontested Rugby League-style scrums. This fan still wants to see a contest. Of course, minus all the neck and spinal cord injuries. The last thing we need to see at the RWC is another Max Brito tragedy. (True, his broken-neck came out of an open-field ruck, not a scrum, but the point stands).