A Tough Loss (on all accounts)

By Ally Grubman

Last Friday the class took a trip to a French Rugby match, or so we thought. About 2 minutes into the game, there were comments flying around our NBB section like “Are we sure this is rugby?”, “When are they going to pick up the ball??”, and my personal favorite, “Guys, they’re just warming up with soccer, don’t worry.” Yep, you guessed it, we made our way to the France vs. Denmark fútbol (soccer) game. So awkward for us.

At the beginning of the soccer game, before the big revelation.

But even though we went thinking it was a rugby game, there was still some relevance to our class that gave me further insight into what we’ve been learning. In our NBB402W class last week, we read a paper on rugby players and the correlation between concussions and later cognition and neurodegenerative illnesses. Although we didn’t get to actually see any rugby players get head injuries, we did however see lots of soccer players use their heads to hit the ball. While this might not be as aggressive or harmful as rugby, there’s no way it’s good for you. For instance, Broglio et al. (2003) found that over a 300-game career, a soccer player experiences roughly 2000 headers, which can add up to cause a lot of damage. This only includes games, not even considering those sustained during practice. This repeated injury can lead to real problems in the future, specifically neurodegeneration. When I say neurodegeneration and neurodegenerative diseases, think: Alzheimer’s, ALS, and Parkinson’s (and so many more). This is something we also found in our rugby paper. Rugby players are rarely required to wear protective or effective helmets. Additionally, since it is very much a contact sport, there has been an increased need for research on the implications of playing such a dangerous game. Tomasin et al. (1989) outline the importance of more awareness on the topic, specifically concerning rugby players and the risk they are putting themselves in. Coaches, physicians, and players need to be more aware of the dangers and the serious possibility of brain damage and degeneration in the player’s future.

A group selfie at the beginning of the game to commemorate the fun time we all had!

However, while we counted the headers and enjoyed the game, we had a great time hanging out in a non-school setting, eating some very overpriced stadium food, and laughing about the fact that we were, in fact, not at a rugby game. It’s too bad that France lost, but all in all, it was a great game and a ton of fun for all of us!!


Broglio, S. P., Ju, Y. Y., Broglio, M. D., & Sell, T. C. (2003). The Efficacy of Soccer Headgear. Journal of athletic training, 38(3), 220–224. 

Tomasin, J. D., Martin, D. F., & Curl, W. W. (1989). Recognition and Prevention of Rugby Injuries. The Physician and sportsmedicine, 17(6), 114–126. https://doi.org/10.1080/00913847.1989.11709809

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