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Page last updated at 07:20 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 08:20 UK

Lions doctor tackles injury worry

By Graham Thomas

Adam Jones (left) and Gethin Jenkins are helped from the field in Pretoria on Saturday
Adam Jones (left) and Gethin Jenkins were two Lions impact casualties

Lions doctor James Robson claims that rugby union has reached a "watershed" over the issue of impact injuries.

The recent tour to South Africa saw a string of casualties, including Wales props Adam Jones (dislocated shoulder) and Gethin Jenkins (cracked cheekbone).

Robson intends to raise the issue at a medical conference hosted next month by the International Rugby Board.

"We're getting to the point where we're getting collisions, but not necessarily the entertainment," said Robson.

"People are trying to run through the opposition, rather than around them," he added in an interview conducted as part of a Sport Wales investigation for BBC Wales.

"Players are so big and so bulky that maybe skills have dropped a little. My hope is that coaches recognise that and we get a little bit smaller and faster and more skilful - that players win the space rather than the collision."

Sport Wales graphic
The full report will be on the Sport Wales programme on Friday evening

Robson, the Scotland team doctor who is a veteran of five Lions tours, has completed his tour report in which he stresses the need for greater better medical back-up for all elite players.

"We have a fantastic sport. It engenders so much passion," Robson added. "We have to be careful that we don't do a disservice to the people who are at the real heart of it and they are the players."

The Sport Wales programme reveals that next month's conference will focus on the area of concussion from impact injuries and how it is treated on the field of play.

It also discloses that referees were told by the IRB to adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards illegal clear-outs at rucks or counter-rucking this season and were provided with video footage of examples.

Wales and Ospreys prop Jones was injured by a clear-out at a ruck during the Lions' 28-25 second Test defeat at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

Another case was Neath scrum-half Gareth Jones, who was tragically injured in a collision at a ruck during a Welsh Premier Division match between Cardiff and Neath in April 2008.

Phil H - BBC Sport

The 28-year-old Jones later died in hospital from complications resulting from the neck injury he sustained during that match.

The investigation also highlights recent reports by the Rugby Football Union, which has conducted a seven-year audit of injured players in the Guinness Premiership.

The figures presented by English rugby's governing body show that an average of close to two players are injured in every match and that those players will be sidelined for an average of 20 days.

Although the overall number of injuries has not increased since 2002, the data shows that 75% of all injuries occur in contact situations.

One of the audit's authors, Simon Kemp, the England team doctor, said: "We don't believe there is an increased risk with the ruck when it's done legitimately.

"There has been some concern expressed by game stake-holders and some players around the risk associated with the counter-ruck.

"The IRB have acted in terms of issuing guidelines to referees about what should be permissible under law and what isn't."

*Watch the full report on Sport Wales this Friday, BBC TWO Wales, 2200 BST

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see also
Wales suffer double injury blow
18 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
Rugby death 'a tragic accident'
06 Nov 08 |  South west
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
South Africa 9-28 Lions
04 Jul 09 |  Rugby Union
Battered Lions lose injured props
28 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Prop Jones set for six months out
04 Jul 09 |  Ospreys
Shanklin set for October return
01 Jul 09 |  Welsh
South Africa 28-25 Lions
27 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 26-21 Lions
20 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Sport Wales: The TV programme
05 Oct 09 |  Wales
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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