French rugby has recently mourned the death of four young rugby players in eight months but the president of the French rugby federation (FFR), Bernard Laporte, says the sport “is half as dangerous as 10 years ago”.
The former France coach spoke at a lunch for the ‘Bien Joue’ (‘Well Played’) programme, launched in French schools after Louis Fajfrowski, 21, died following a heavy tackle playing for Aurillac in August.
A 17-year-old amateur Adrien Descrulhes died in May, a day after receiving a blow to the head playing for amateur club Billom. In December, Stade Francais youth flanker Nicolas Chauvin, 18, died after breaking his neck.
At the start of the year, Nathan Soyeux, a 23-year-old student, died in hospital in Dijon after a tackle in a match.
“An accident is always an accident too many, but when we look at the statistics, we see that rugby is half as dangerous today as it was 10 years ago,” Laporte told journalists.
The FFR and the French league have since suggested that World Rugby consider banning tackles by more than one player at a time and lowering the permitted tackle line to from the shoulders to the waist.
That “would also make the game more fluid” Laporte said.
“There is no safe sport, it does not exist,” said Laporte.
“When we look at all the other sports, we cannot say that rugby is the most dangerous, far from it, it’s not true. Statistics show that in some sports there are far more accidents,” Laporte said, citing cycling and “mountain” sports.
World Rugby have scheduled a forum on injury prevention in Paris on March 19-20.