4 May 2009

Rugby union wants right to ban at-risk players

7:30 pm on 4 May 2009

The Northland Rugby Union is calling for the right to ban players who may be at risk after a teenager suffered a serious head injury at a club game.

Darrell Sabin, 18, has been in a coma in Auckland Hospital since last weekend when he was tackled and hit his head on the ground in a match in the Far North.

His father Mike Sabin says he has tried to stop Darrell playing again because of a previous head injury two years ago, in which he was hospitalised for five days with a brain bleed.

Mr Sabin says before that incident, Darrell had been concussed five times on the field - each time more severely than the last.

He says it is surprising that the rugby union has no apparent protocol in place to protect young players, in particular.

Northland Rugby Union operations manager Greg Shipton says he had prevented an attempt by Darrell to return to the game, but this time he was unable to reach the coaches by phone to ensure that he did not play.

Mr Shipton says the Northland union has asked the New Zealand Rugby Union to clarify what it can legally do to stop young players putting themselves at risk.