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Six Nations squads are decimated by injury: rugby must heed the warnings | Andy Bull

Workload is up, wages are up, and severe injuries are up – rugby union can’t keep explaining away the number of absent players by saying it is the nature of the game. It never used to be

Aaron Carpenter is a rugby man, and has been since he was 13 and his brother first taught him how to play the game. Carpenter won 80 caps for Canada, which is a national record, and hundreds more for Coventry, Cornish Pirates, Doncaster Knights, and a bunch of other sides, including, when his schedule allowed, his home town team the Brantford Harlequins, where his mum is the club treasurer. He is the kind of player you will only know much of if he happened to play for your team. Then you will remember him very well, because he could never do enough for his club. He played hooker or No8, wherever his team most needed him.

A couple of weeks back, Carpenter quit. He had taken three blows to the head in a row. They were not bad, but they did not need to be. A lot of players have had to make similar decisions. The RFU’s statistics show that 44 professional players have quit the English leagues because of assorted injuries in the last three years. And the day after Carpenter, the Scottish full-back Peter Murchie announced that he was retiring on medical advice too. Which is a sign both of how severe rugby’s concussion problem is, and how well-informed the players now are about the risks.. As Carpenter told the Canadian Press, it wasn’t long ago “you got your bell rung and you went back out there and played”.

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