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'I hope it doesn't take some awful accident for us to wake up to the fact sport is getting more rough'

Shane Ross said he is concerned about dangerous behaviour taking place in sports.

SPORTS MINISTER SHANE Ross has said society needs to “face up” to the fact that sport is getting more rough and people are getting hurt.

In a wide-ranging interview with TheJournal.ie, Ross said some things are happening on sports fields that are “completely unacceptable”.

In the first six months of this year, 72 children were admitted to Temple Street Children’s Hospital suffering from head injuries as a result of sports, the Irish Independent reported earlier this month.

Such numbers have resulted in Professor Alf Nicholson, a consultant paediatrician with Temple Street, stating that it is time to examine how children’s sports are organised to lower the risk of head injuries.

When asked if he is concerned about the dangers of concussion and contact sports, Ross said:

“I think we have to face up to it… Sometimes you see things on the sporting field which are completely unacceptable, even in rugby, where people are doing things which are dangerous.

“I think it is something we have to be fairly vigilant about. The line between competition and abuse is sometimes difficult to draw.”

Rio Olympics 2016 Minister for Transport, Sport and Tourism, Shane Ross. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Sport becoming more physical 

The minister, who attended Ireland’s first game in the Women’s Rugby World Cup in UCD this week (he said he will attending all games), said that he is concerned about the level of injuries emerging from amateur and professional sports.

Sport has become more physical, rugby has become more physical certainly, which is a pity, but I think we should vigilant about it and I hope it doesn’t take some awful accident for us to wake up to the fact the sport is getting rougher.

Consultant Neurologist at St James’s Hospital, Dr Colin Doherty, told a recent conference on concussion and brain injury at Trinity College that awareness of concussion and its immediate and delayed effects is growing amongst not only medical, educational and sporting organisations, but also the general public.

“There is an urgent need to have a coherent set of national guidelines for recognition and management of mild traumatic brain injury that can reach across organisational boundaries and underpin a proper evidence based approach to treatment,” he said.

Reuters 20170610 File Photo: Players reaching for the ball in a rugby game. Source: Reuters/PA Images

Concussion guidance memo 

The Department of Sport confirmed to TheJournal.ie that a concussion guidance document, which will be used by schools, clubs and sports governing bodies, is currently being drafted by government.

Three government departments are involved in drafting the memo - the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Department of Health and the Department of Education and Skills.

A statement to TheJournal.ie from the Department of Sport said the issue of concussion and head injuries in sport “is a serious one, as the health and safety of players participating in sport is of paramount importance”.

The document currently being developed is for the general public, as well schools, clubs and the national governing bodies of sport, such as the IRFU.

However, the department said it is important to note that governing bodies have responsibility for setting and implementing appropriate safety standards within their sport.

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