It’s a comment often heard on social media, by rugby commentators and even from players themselves – “the game’s gone soft”!
In fact, rugby at the top level has never been harder and by “harder” we mean more dangerous.
If you do hear the “game’s gone soft” comment again, please point the individual in the direction of this list, which is a compilation of players who have cited head traumas or brain injuries as the sole (or major contributing factor) to their retirement from rugby.
It doesn’t include those who are still playing rugby having suffered serious complications from head traumas (North, Sexton, Lambie, Brown etc), nor does it include those players that may not have been completely open about the reasons for their retirement.
If there are any players missing off this list please let us know and we will try and keep it up to date.
The threat of serious brain injuries from rugby incidents isn’t a hypothetical scenario; it’s real and the implications are visible now.
There are currently 42 players on this list.
Nic Berry (Wasps, Racing Metro, Queensland Reds) – a “concussive episode” during the season opener against Harlequins has forced him to quit the game
Finlay Barnham (Leicester Tigers Academy, Nottingham) – retired after taking medical advice following a six-month spell on the sidelines recovering from concussion
Mouritz Botha (Sharks, Saracens, Newcastle, England) – retired from professional rugby at the age of 35, on medical advice related to concussion
Shontayne Hape (Bath, London Irish, Montpellier, England) – retired after repeated concussion incidents
Andy Hazell (Gloucester, England) – forced to retire after failing to recover from a pre-season concussion injury
David Jackson (Nottingham) – retired on medical grounds after suffering a head injury in pre-season training
Michael Lipman (Melbourne Rebels, Bristol, Bath, England) – Lipman admitted he’d had “possibly 30” concussions in a 12-year career
Kat Merchant (England Women) – retired in 2014 on medical advice, after sustaining a number of concussions during her career
Jon Pendlebury (Gloucester, Leeds Carnegie) – commented that he had received a number of concussions during the season
Marie-Alice Yahe (France Women’s captain) – retired due to repeated concussion events
Declan Fitzpatrick (Ulster, Ireland) – retires on medical advice after receiving a number of concussions
John Fogarty (Leinster, Ireland) – retired from rugby as a result of difficulties brought about by repeated concussions
Bernard Jackman (Connacht, Leinster, Sale, Ireland) – retired because of repeated concussion – Jackman had 20 over three seasons
Ben Marshall (Leinster, Connacht, Emerging Ireland) – forced to retire from professional rugby based on medical advice following a concussion injury
Kevin McLaughlin (Leinster, Ireland) – retired from rugby on medical grounds after a neurologist raised concerns over issues related to concussion
Dave McSharry (Connacht) – retired after suffering multiple concussions
Nathan White (Waikato, Connacht, Ireland) – retired from professional rugby on medical advice following a concussion he sustained in March 2016
Cillian Willis (Leinster, Connacht, Ulster, Sale) – forced to retire at 28 due to concussion
Ben Afeaki (Chiefs, New Zealand) – retired with ongoing concussion symptoms following a head clash with team mate Brodie Retallick
Kane Barrett (Taranaki, Blues) – took an elbow to the jaw while training with the Auckland Blues in March 2014. He hasn’t played since.
David Briggs (Taranaki, Chiefs, Tonga) – “I had heaps of concussions. I suffered depression big-time from those head knocks. I don’t think I will ever be right. I accept I will have depression for the rest of my life and a lot of memory loss”
James Broadhurst (Taranaki, Canterbury, Hurricanes, New Zealand) – called it a day on rugby after being badly concussed in the Taranaki v Wellington provincial clash in August 2015
Dan Bowden (multiple clubs including Blues, Highlanders and Crusaders) – mentioned that he had “struggled with concussions” in his statement explaining his retirement
Shane Christie (Highlanders) – forced to retire in May 2018 due to ongoing symptoms from a concussion he suffered back in 2016
Craig Clarke (Chiefs, Connacht) – retired at 30 after suffering his 10th concussion in 22 months
Shane Cleaver (Taranaki, Chiefs) – retired due to concussion complications
Steve Devine (Auckland, Blues, New Zealand) – numerous concussions suffered during his decade long career resulted in specialists advising the 30-year-old that it was time to give up the game
Jason Eaton (Hurricanes, La Rochelle, New Zealand) – suffered a head knock playing against Clermont in 2018 and has decided to retire at the end of this season because his symptoms haven’t improved.
Reggie Goodes (Wellington, Hurricanes) – retired on medical advice after suffering multiple concussions
Leon MacDonald (Canterbury, Crusaders, New Zealand) – prompted to retire due to a serious concussion, suffered playing for Kintetsu in a pre-season game in Japan
Sean Polwart (Auckland, Blues and Chiefs) – announced his retirement from rugby because of a concussion received on the training field in February 2015
Mark Reddish (Harlequins, Wellington, Hurricanes, Highlanders) – retired from rugby for medical reasons after suffering a concussion
Jayden Spence (Otago, Union Bordeaux Begles) – retired in 2018 after suffering a number of concussion issues
Dan Waenga (Chiefs, Biarittz) – played his last game in 2015 and retired after medical advice following 12 concussion incidents
Dan describes some of his symptoms at the bottom of the article below, which included depression, anxiety and sleeping up to 18 hours a day.
Alistair Hargreaves (Sharks, Saracens, South Africa) – retired after suffering “a number of concussions” in the last couple of seasons
Adam Hughes (Dragons, Bristol, Exeter) – “A neurologist said that playing rugby wasn’t an option due to two major trauma scars that I had sustained on my brain”
Matthew Pewtner (Dragons) – the player failed to recover from a head injury
Ashley Smith (Dragons) – retired after suffering a “series of concussive events”
Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys, Worcester, Wales) – retired at the age of 32 after being diagnosed with epilepsy that is thought to have been brought on from multiple head traumas
Rory Watts Jones (Cardiff Blues) – forced to retire through concussion aged 26
Ben Bolger (UAE) – retired after suffering 2 head injuries in 2 weeks
Aaron Carpenter (Coventry, Plymouth Albion, Cornish Pirates, London Welsh, Doncaster, Canada) -retired after a number of head injuries
To follow theblitzdefence on Facebook follow us here