04/09/2013

NI Rugby Death Is 'First Of Its Kind'

A coroner has ruled that a 14-year-old rugby player has become the first person in Northern Ireland to die from second impact syndrome.

At a hearing in Belfast, the coroner added that it could "probably" be the first such case in the UK.

Ben Robinson, from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim, died in January 2011 after suffering concussion during a school rugby match. It is understood he had been temporarily knocked out at the beginning of the second half of the game, but he continued playing. He was involved in several more heavy tackles afterwards, and was seen holding his head moments before he collapsed towards the end of the match.

His parents argue that Ben should have been taken off the pitch when he first picked up an injury.

Second impact syndrome occurs when a knock causes swelling to the brain before it has fully recovered from an earlier injury.

The coroner said she would be sending a copy of her findings to the head of Irish Rugby and the Education Minister.

In a statement, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and Ulster Rugby expressed their "deepest condolences" to the Robinson family and said player safety was a priority.

The statement continued: "Injuries of this nature are highly unusual in rugby.

"The IRFU and Ulster Rugby observe all international best practices, as set out by the International Rugby Board. We have in place, and continue to develop, education and training campaigns to ensure player welfare is prioritised at all times."

(JP/CD)

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