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Reviews Personal views

Rugby union should ban contested scrums

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 25 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1281
  1. James B Bourke, consultant general surgeon (
  1. University Hospital, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham

    For 30 years I have been an honorary medical officer to Nottingham Rugby Football Club. In this time I have attended about 25 games a season and on many occasions have been the “duty doctor,” either officially or unofficially. In that time four players have been removed from the field of play at Nottingham with serious neck injuries. Three of the injuries were associated with scrums, and one occurred in a tackle. All four players had initial sensory and motor impairment. Two recovered within minutes or hours; one recovered in days; and one became paraplegic. Three needed an operation for fracture. Another three Nottingham players injured their necks in scrums while playing away from home and needed to be removed from the pitch. One player needed an operation and is paraplegic. Therefore I have experience of seven serious spinal cord injuries, five of which have required an operation. Two of the players are wheelchair dependent. Six of the seven injuries were related to the scrum, and in all …

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