Make rugby safer, says French sports minister

Rugby ball (File)
Rugby ball (File)

Paris - France's sports minister has called on rugby authorites to make the game safer after the death of another young player injured during a game.

Roxana Maracineanu said she would meet the president of the French rugby federation, Bernard Laporte, to discuss ways of preventing more deaths.

"A third young player has died on a rugby field, the first since I became sports minister, and that is too much," Maracineanu told journalists.

Nicolas Chavin, 19, a Stade Francais youth team player, died in hospital after suffering a broken neck which triggered a heart attack during a match on Sunday.

In August Louis Fajfrowski, 21, died following a heavy tackle playing for Aurillac. Three months earlier a 17-year-old died a day after receiving a blow to the head playing for amateur club Billom.

"It is time the sport adapts its rules to protect younger players from the risks," Maracineanu said.

Rugby is a contact sport involving major impacts between players colliding at speed, meaning injuries can occur even when no foul play takes place.

Without drawing a direct link to the dangers of the sport, federation chief Laporte said that young people were quitting rugby in significant numbers.

"We have lost five percent of our registered players in the past year. We must put a stop to this collapse," he said.

He said the fall in participation was 10% for men, with a rise in female participation bringing the overall figure up to five percent.

The former national coach said the federation would invest €10 million in improving rugby coaching in schools while counting on the staging of the 2023 World Cup in France to revive interest among the young.

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