Scotland scrum-half Ali Price says rugby may never be free of concussions

Scotland scrum-half Ali Price admits rugby may never solve its concussion problem.

Ali Price scores for Scotland in a World Cup warm-up match against Georgia at Murrayfield. Picture: Robert Perry/Getty
Ali Price scores for Scotland in a World Cup warm-up match against Georgia at Murrayfield. Picture: Robert Perry/Getty

The topic of player safety has been thrust back into the spotlight following the announcement that Price’s international team-mate David Denton has been forced to retire on the advice of doctors.

The 42-time capped Scotland forward has not featured for club side Leicester or Gregor Townsend’s national team since a serious head knock during an English Premiership clash with Northampton last October.

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The trauma has left the 29-year-old feeling pressure in his skull as well as visual disturbances, leading a London brain expert to warn Denton that he would be putting his long-term health at risk if he resumed his playing career.

Price has sympathy for Denton but hailed World Rugby for its efforts to deal with the dangers of concussion. But with brutal collisions a fundamental part of the modern game, he admits the risk will never totally be removed.

“It’s always going to be an issue,” said Price in Nagasaki, where Townsend’s team are preparing for Sunday’s World Cup opener with Ireland.

“It’s a contact sport and sadly these things are going to happen. Guys can get their head caught on the wrong side and with boys running faster and being stronger, if you’re caught in an awkward position sometimes these flash knockouts happen.

“The thing with the brain is that everyone deals with it differently – and you’ve only got one of them don’t you?

“Some boys can be back in a week, feel OK and pass all the protocols. Others take a lot longer. But I think the steps rugby takes to protect the head is the best of any team sport in terms of removing players from the pitch to get tested and then the follow-up protocols.

“There is always that risk that injuries like this will happen but World Rugby are leading the way in trying to minimise how often it happens.

“It’s a shame for Dents and there is a few players who have had to call time on their careers with similar issues but you’re never going to stop it unless you declare the sport touch rugby from now on - but that’s never going to happen.

“Everyone loves the game as it is. None of us goes out there to get hurt. We don’t go out to hurt others. It’s part of the game.

“You just have to accept you might be unlucky. It can happen to anyone at any time.”