Scotland captain Kelly Brown has had his ups and downs but one thing you can bank on is that he will always throw his body on the line, with little to no regard for what shape he is in.
His club, Saracens, look after all-out players like Brown particularly well, rotating them and ensuring no one falls completely apart. It’s great for them, but elsewhere in the rugby world, there are players putting themselves through the ringer when it really is not in their best interest.
“It’s sometimes like that, yes,” Brown admits when it is put to him that some players are shaving years off their lives. “The whole concussion issue highlights that. A player will want to stay on but they shouldn’t.
“I think concussion has always been a major issue, but it is in the public eye more. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s leading in the right direction, that it’s ultimately left to the medics. I think player welfare is a huge topic and really no one knows what the long-term effects of playing at this level are. They need a bit of input, and the more support for medics the better.”
The issue of concussion is one that the IRB say they are actively striving to improve upon, while the well documented decline of former player like Shontayne Hape – who told the NZ Herald in a harrowing account that he is “not a granddad, I’m in my 30s – I’ve got the concentration span of a little kid” and that dementia is a worry – has brought this issue to the fore once again. Hape wants strides forward and is concerned about what will happen in ten years time.
So would Brown, a man who flings his body into the path of huge opponents ever consider donating his body to science when it’s all over? “It’s not something I’ve thought about, but a study (into the long-term effects of rugby) like that would have to be taken very seriously.”
Do you ever worry about grinding your body down? “I will console myself with the fact that however I turn out, I’ll be in better nick than Jacques Burger!”
Kelly Brown is an ambassador for leading sports performance brand ASICS. For more information, please visit asics.co.uk.