Tagatauli tragedy highlights player safety in rugby

By Thomas Airey 24 January 2019, 12:00AM

The death of Vaimoso rugby player Faiva Tagatauli after a suspected head injury is “a wake-up call for everybody”, according to Samoa Rugby Union chief executive officer Faleomavaega Vincent Fepulea’i.

Tagatauli (27) died yesterday morning, having collapsed on the side of the field after being substituted during the Taula Apia Rugby Union Senior A division match between Vaimoso HJ Keil and Vailele at the S.R.U fields, Tuanaimato.

Faleomavaega said the loss of just one player is one too many.

“Do not take anything for granted around that area.

“The game has become faster and more physical over the last 10 years or so, the contacts are more intense.”

He said that causes an increasing number of injuries.

“It’s up to the coaches to prioritise the welfare of the players over the team.”

Faleomavaega said the coaches and managers of Super 9 teams come to S.R.U for courses on dealing with head injuries, but at the club level it is down to the provincial unions to work on those issues with their clubs.

“We encourage all the teams around the country is to make sure they source a volunteer who is qualified to be on standby, to make sure the minimum standard of care is there initially.”

He said they are always pushing out player safety messages, in the hope that they trickle down to the grassroots level.

“World Rugby has made the Head Injury Assessment a real top priority in the game nowadays.”

Faleomavaega said there is a lack of expertise on the island to deal with much beyond basic first-aid at first response at a rugby game.

“But we acknowledge the tremendous work Red Cross does in that respect.

“It’s an issue that’s not new to us, with the shortage of doctors in the country.”

While Red Cross are usually present on Apia Rugby Union matchdays, on Saturday they were not.

He said player safety is a collective effort for which coaches, players and medical staff are all responsible.

He also said match officials and administrators need to up their game as well.

By Thomas Airey 24 January 2019, 12:00AM

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