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Rugby’s Concussion Problem: Headache That Won’t Go Away


By George Ramsay, for CNN

(CNN)Alistair Hargreaves’ rugby career ended with a bang.

Not the “packed stadium, trophy hoisted in the air” sort of bang — that had already happened. This one was more ominous.

When the towering South African accidentally clashed heads with a teammate during a training session last year, it was the fifth concussion he had suffered in two years. For the sake of his long-term health, Hargreaves took the decision to retire from the game aged 30.

On the touchline of a quiet, North London sports pitch, it was hardly the ending any athlete dreams of.

“It was a strange one because you don’t see your career ending on the side of a field on a Monday afternoon,” Hargreaves, who won four caps for the Springboks before joining English Premiership side Saracens, told CNN.

“A pass came and we were both looking at the ball, and just bang — a clash of heads, a bit of dizziness.

“I got home that evening and was straight out for the count at about five o’clock. I fell asleep until 10 and woke up with a raging headache, and was in a dark room for the whole weekend. The writing was on the wall.”

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