ACC pays out millions for rugby-related concussions

By Raniera Harrison

Statistics show ACC has paid out more than $2.2m in the last five years for rugby-related concussions for players aged between 0-19 years of age.

ormer aspiring NRL player, Te Aorere Pewhairangi is one of a large group of Māori players who could be sidelined next season as he continues his battle with concussion.

“The first one happened when I was playing over in Australia, but I didn’t think it was that bad,” he says.

Pewhairangi was bedridden for two months in 2014, after further aggravating his symptoms in a Fox Memorial Cup match, still fighting the ramifications of a persistent neck injury.  He became prone to anxiety attacks, nausea, sensitive to light, and could not even watch TV, let alone use his phone for nine months.

Pewhairangi, a former Parramatta Eels junior, and Tāmaki Makaurau league player now suffers the long-term effects of that concussion.

He says, “it is something that a lot of us are aware of, but don’t take too much notice of.”

The call for curbing concussion within children and teens has gone worldwide. U.S. Soccer, the governing body for the sport in the United States announced on Monday that there any players aged 10 and under should not hit the ball with their heads and it should be limited only to practise for those aged 11-13.  Pewhairangi agrees with this recommendation.

The ACC has revealed, last year alone there were 1,563 reported concussions directly resulting from rugby union, and a further 270 from rugby league for the 0-19 age bracket.

“Just that everyone be a little bit more careful, and think about what is really happening when you’re in that tackle,” says Pewhairangi.

Te Kāea sports journalist, Raniera Harrison will analyse the statistics obtained from the ACC, and speak more with Te Aorere Pewhairangi tonight at 5:30pm on Māori Television.

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