A ruling finally comes in on the death of Aurillac's young wing in August

AFTER THREE months of investigation, it has been ruled that 21-year-old Stade Aurillac wing Louis Fajfrowski, who passed away in August, died from ‘lethal fibrillation’ following a hefty tackle to the chest.

An initial autopsy proved inconclusive in its search for a cause of death. However, yesterday a ruling of “accidental death” came in, with local prosecutor Olivier Clemecon saying Fajfrowski had suffered “precordial chest trauma, responsible for a lethal heart attack on a pathological heart”.

According to La Montagne, a deputy prosecutor also said the hit to Fajfrowski’s chest was “responsible for a heart attack with acceleration of the rhythm that led to his death”.

Known in medicine as commotio cordis, it is an incredibly rare occurrence when a blow to the chest offsets the rhythm of the heart. If a blow occurs during the most infinitesimal break in the electrical activity of the heart, the heart cells can fire off randomly as they attempt to reset.

This means there is no heart beat, which leads to no pulse, no blood pressure, and the subject will collapse or lose consciousness.

Prompt recognition of this condition is vital and use of a defibrillator can reset the cells. However, it is believed that every minute of delay reduces the chance of a defibrillator working during cardiac arrest by around 7-10%.

According to reports, Fajfrowski was helped to the changing rooms after the incident near the hour-mark of the match against Rodez. There were several attempts made by medics to revive him in the changing rooms before he passed away.

In their conclusion, those in charge of the investigation said they could not “demonstrate that there was any fault attributable to anyone. It is an unfortunate accident”.

Shortly after the incident the ProD2 team tweeted: “Stade Aurillacois sadly confirms the passing of youth player Louis Fajfrowski.

“Louis died after feeling faint in the dressing room during a friendly match. Stade Aurillacois is in mourning and everyone at the club sends their heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Related: Vicky Macqueen: my brush with death

Commotio Cordis is one of the first considerations when an athlete succumbs to sudden cardiac death.

World Rugby has its own immediate care management group, which has implemented three levels of training for incidents like this.

Around 6,000 people have now done World Rugby’s level one first aid in rugby course – which includes the use of defibrillators – and there are level two and three courses for those operating at higher levels of competition.

You can find out more here: https://playerwelfare.worldrugby.org/firstaidinrugby