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Player deaths: French rugby officials to meet with World Rugby over safety concerns

By Tom Walker    04 Feb 2019
FFR representatives will discuss ways to make the sport safer at both elite and grassroots levels

Representatives of Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) are set to meet international governing body World Rugby over safety concerns following a spate of fatalities linked with the sport.

FFR, the governing body for rugby union in France, will sit down with World Rugby officials after the deaths of four French players – two of them professionals – over the past eight months. The deaths have resulted in growing calls to reform the sport and to make the game safer for players.

One of the latest fatalities was Louis Fajfrowski, a 21-year-old professional at second tier club Stade Aurillac.

Fajfrowski received a hefty tackle to the chest during a game and died shortly after due to a heart attack. His death was deemed a result of ‘lethal fibrillation' – known in medicine as commotio cordis – when a blow to the chest at a critical time during the cycle of a heart beat offsets the rhythm of the heart.

The meeting in Paris in March is also set to see World Rugby set out its 2019 plan to mitigate the risk of injury in the sport.

The plan is centred on detailed research to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the causes of injury, both in a match and training environment, as well as a sustained approach to prevention strategies across the game – from administrators, coaches, players and medics to referees.

It has been suggested that changes should be made to reduce the number of high tackles in the sport.

Speaking about the new safety plan, World Rugby chair Bill Beaumont said: “Our major focus is the tackle, which is the most common facet of the game, and this year we will complete the initial reduced tackle height trials.

"We are also going to be hosting a wide-ranging laws forum in Paris in March, with a focus on injury-prevention and how evaluation and evolution of the laws might impact this area within the next four-year laws review cycle."

Fédération Française de Rugby  FFR  World Rugby 
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