Two case studies based on the autopsies of former rugby league players, reveal shocking reports associated with the game and related injury.
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) was never detected in rugby league players before. Associate Professor Michael Buckland, from the School of Medical Sciences at Sydney University, headed the study that examined two players who were past their prime in the career, living their retirement before they died. After each playing more than 150 first grade NRL games, he found traces that directly connect their post-game life with “punch drunk” the colloquial name for CTE.
In both case studies, he noted that the players’ retirements were relatively normal without singular episodes. One player increasingly relied on aide-memoires for daily activities in the years prior to his death, and faced difficulties remembering details of a significant life event. He was found to have sustained multiple head injuries as a player. The other tackled issues transitioning to a post-playing career, but was an efficiently employed minus major events in the years to follow.
The National Rugby League has enforced strict rules to manage concussion based on outcomes from the 2016 International Conference on Concussion in Sport. Players who suffer a concussion need to undergo a head injury assessment (HIA), if assessed positive for injury, they are not allowed to returned to the game unless fully recovered.
America’s National Football League’s CTE history was put in the spotlight a few years ago. However, this is the first time the disease is being studied with reference to Australis’s Rugby League arena.