When Welsh international rugby union player Sam Warburton made his shock proclamation to quit at the age of 29 following last season out with neck and knee surgery, he joined an ever growing list of international players to hang up their boots in 2018. Rugby, in case you didn't know it, is one hell of a dangerous sport.
I often get clients who played rugby at school or university and they are coming to me with chronic injuries they picked up while toughing it out on the rugby pitch. It seems if you have a rugby background, it's very likely to stay with you for the rest of your life. But in a good way too. Because nearly every former rugby player I've ever treated - I'm talking amateur players here - still has an underlying physical strength and hardiness. So your injuries plague you for years but at least your body is still strong enough to cope with them.
Given how many injuries rugby players sustain, it's not surprising that the bodies in charge of the game are now - belatedly - experimenting with ways to make the game safer. Until now, rugby players have been able to tackle up to the height of the shoulders - though it's easy to catch players tackling by putting their arm around the opponent's neck. The height of a legal tackle in rugby union will be lowered next season in a significant trial designed to make the game safer. Governing body World Rugby has already started a similar trial with the height of the tackle in the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy moved from "the line of the shoulders to below the nipple line".
Hopefully this will mean fewer rugby players having to bow out early. Though personally, I've always thought chess was a far safer option.