‘We must look after players so they can live a happy, healthy life after rugby’ - Edinburgh coach on the sport’s duty of care

Edinburgh defence coach Calum MacRae says rugby has a responsibility to look after its players so they can lead a full and healthy life when they quit the sport.

Edinburgh defence coach Calum MacRae. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS
Edinburgh defence coach Calum MacRae. Picture: Ross Parker/SNS

He was speaking after it was announced that a group of former internationals are planning legal action for negligence against the rugby authorities over brain injuries they have suffered during their playing careers.

The planned action is against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union, for “failure to protect (the claimants) from the risks caused by concussions”.

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MacRae acknowledges that collisions are a major part of rugby and says he has a duty of care to coach the correct technique to minimise the risk of head injuries.

He believes Scottish rugby has a good track record when it comes to dealing with concussions and says his own playing career was well managed in that respect.

“We play a collision-based sport,” said MacRae. “The HIA [head injury assessment] protocols that we go through are there for good reason. You’ve got a relatively short career in terms of your life, therefore it’s really important you look after players appropriately so they’re not only fit to do a job post-rugby, but also so they can live a really happy, healthy life after that without any complications.

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“You are going to get the odd scenario that will happen around head injuries, because that’s just the nature of the sport. All you can do, from my side as a defence coach, there’s a real collision focus on that. My biggest thing is I don’t coach poor technique. I’m not all about the collisions without looking after the players.

“We want our best players on the field as often as possible, and if we’re reckless in the way that we approach our technical work, that’s only going to have more of your better players not able to play for you. That’s my duty of care, and I’d hope there are coaches out there who have the same approach.

“Do I feel as though I was mismanaged in my career? Absolutely not, because for the most part I was within Scottish rugby and I think we’ve got a good track record of looking after players, particularly in that area.”

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