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Leinster hooker James Tracy.
Leinster hooker James Tracy.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

'We would always look at and try learn from the mistakes of others'

Leinster hooker James Tracy says the province are always working on ways to make the game safer.
Feb 19th 2021, 6:30 AM 3,216 2

IT’S BEEN HARD to get away from the topic of head injuries in rugby recently. It’s something which has unfortunately been particularly prevalent from an Irish point of view, and there seems to be a new story regarding the issue every week.

Concussion symptoms ended Caelan Doris‘ Six Nations before it even started. In Ireland’s first Six Nations game, dangerous contact with the head of Wales’ Tomas Francis in Cardiff saw Peter O’Mahony sent-off and banned for three games. Johnny Sexton and James Ryan both missed the defeat to France as a result of failing return to play protocols. 

When it comes to head injuries, there is always a feeling that rugby could be doing more.

This week, a new lobby group named Progressive Rugby called for significant changes to how the game is played, including limiting substitutions and placing new restrictions on contact in training, among other adjustments.

Leinster’s James Tracy says he would be fully supportive of anything that makes the game better and safer. The hooker, who starts for the province at Dragons tonight, explains that the province are always looking at ways to limit injury when it comes to the more attritional sides of the game.

“A lot of what we would do (in training) is tackle technique, being in a position where you are putting yourself in the best opportunity to make a really good tackle that is safe for everyone involved. We put a lot of emphasis into that side of things,” he says.

“Obviously accidents do happen, but what we do is we try and be as fit as we can and have the best tackle technique we can, and that minimises the chances of incidents happening. That’s what the science shows and that’s how we train, basically.

“We would do very very minimal (contact), and for my years as a professional we haven’t had heavy contact weeks. 

“Yes, you need some sort of contact every now and again, but in a safe way, whether it’s hitting bags or whatever. I don’t necessarily think you need to be hitting bodies to achieve what you need to get to be match ready.

“I think we’ve obviously had periods of success over the last 10 years without having to go out and whack each other every day of the week.”

The discussions taking place around safety in rugby aren’t just happening at boardroom level or in the media. The players, too, are always trying to stay on top of things.

“Any big incident like a ruck incident or trends in the game of stuff that will get you yellow-carded or red-carded, we would always look at and try learn from the mistakes of others and adapt accordingly. That’s just part of the week and part and parcel of our learning. 

“It wouldn’t be talked about a huge amount outside of when we are in meeting rooms. But it’s like anything, general chit-chat about what is current. Our world is rugby, so we do talk about current rugby affairs, but not in crazy depth.”

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Unfortunately injury has been a big topic at Leinster this week, following the news that Dan Leavy is set for another extended spell on the sidelines. 

james-tracy-and-dan-leavy-celebrate-after-the-game Tracy with Leinster team-mate Dan Leavy. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“He’s doing well, considering,” Tracy says.

“He’s one of my best friends and no-one wants to see someone close to them have a setback but there’s no better man to take something like this on the chin. He has already come back from something so much worse so he will be back 100% next season.

“He is already processing it and mapping out how he can make his return. For me, his best game (since coming back) was probably his last game against the Scarlets so he knows now that he can get back to that level that he can get to.

“He just needs to weather this storm and get back flying next season.”

Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey take the fine-tooth comb to Ireland’s defeat to France and get to the bottom of their issues on both sides of the ball:

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Ciarán Kennedy


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