University study will examine long-term health of rugby players

Cillian Willis
Former Sale Sharks player Cillian Willis is to sue the club for alleged clinical negligence over a career-ending concussion

Sports scientists are to research the long-term health effects of playing rugby, including the implications for those who suffer concussion.

Retired amateur and professional players across the UK will be assessed as part of a university study.

A Rugby Football Union report in March found there were 645 injuries in the 2014-15 Premiership season, with their severity the highest since 2002.

The research will also explore muscle, bone, joint and cardiometabolic health.

Cardiometabolic risk refers to the chances of having diabetes, heart disease or a stroke.

The study - by UK RugbyHealth - follows research in 2015 that pointed to links between frequent concussion and brain function, as well as the Cillian Willis case.

Former Sale Sharks player Willis, 31, is to sue the club for alleged clinical negligence over a career-ending concussion. Sale are yet to comment.

The Carnegie Research Institute at Leeds Beckett University will lead the study, alongside researchers at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and the University of Aberdeen.

Dr Karen Hind, senior research fellow at Leeds Beckett, said: "Our project will examine links between concussions and future health.

"But it is also a broad study of how people who played rugby are getting on later in life. "

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