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IRFU expresses condolences to family of boy, 14, after rugby death

Ben Robinson was ruled to have passed away from brain injuries caused by Second Impact Syndrome.

Ben Robinson collapsed near the end of a rugby game in January 2011.
Ben Robinson collapsed near the end of a rugby game in January 2011.
Image: BBC News screengrab

THE IRFU AND Ulster Rugby have expressed their ‘deepest condolences’ to the family of a 14-year-old who died after suffering multiple concussive blows during a school rugby match.

In January 2011, Ben Robinson, from Carrickfergus, collapsed at the end of a match, during which he was involved in several heavy tackles. Coroner Suzanne Anderson, today, revealed that Robinson had subsequently passed away from brain injuries due to Second Impact Syndrome. She told the hearing in Belfast that it was “probably” the first death of its kind in the United Kingdom.

The syndrome involves individuals enduring two concussive injuries in a short period of time. A second blow causes the brain to swell before it has fully recovered from an earlier knock.

Robinson had been knocked out early in the second half of a match with his school [Carrickfergus Grammar] but regained consciousness and re-entered the fray.

The unions released a joint statement this afternoon to pass on their condolences to the Robinson family. The second paragraph of the short statement read:

Injuries of this nature are highly unusual in rugby. The IRFU and Ulster Rugby observe all international best practices, as set out by the International Rugby Board. We have in place, and continue to develop, education and training campaigns to ensure player welfare is prioritised at all times.”

Speaking to the BBC after the coroner’s verdict, Ben’s father, Peter Robinson said, “The recognition of the concussion that was missed, and pointing out failings in the system… again, coaches unaware, refs unaware, pupils unaware. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”

The coroner said she would be sending copies of her findings to Northern Ireland Education Minister, John O’Dowd and the chief executive of the IRFU, Philip Browne.

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Patrick McCarry

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