'Mum couldn't stand watching me play' – Dawson on concussion and its consequences


Matt Dawson is tackled by South Africa's Corne Krige

Matt Dawson, here tackled by South Africa’s Corne Krige in 2000, performed 77 times for England, won the World Cup in 2003 and went on three British and Irish Lions tours

Matt Dawson enjoyed loads of success in his rugby profession however his mum would perhaps additionally not ceaselessly endure to behold any of it.

Lois Dawson not ceaselessly ever neglected any of her son’s matches, however she used to be not staring at out of a love of the sport. There used to be puny curiosity in who won or lost. She wished to be there in case her son bought injure.

Admire many rugby avid gamers, Dawson did rep injure. To such an extent that he can’t constantly keep in mind the circumstances of how and has to turn to extinct crew-mate and most productive buddy Paul Grayson for the exiguous print.

While playing for Northampton in opposition to Harlequins, the scrum-half of got the ball off a line-out and used to be in the present day smashed to the floor as one other player’s arm hit him all the blueprint thru the head.

The subsequent thing Dawson remembers is waking up in clinic with his mum at his facet. He in the present day requested what the ranking had been.

Ten seconds later he requested all over again. And all over again. And all over again, forgetting on every occasion that he had requested the identical query handiest moments sooner than.

Things went on love this for an hour and Dawson says it “distressed his mum hugely”. It used to be if truth be told one of a wide resolution of concussions the 47-year-venerable suffered in his 15-year profession.

He believes he used to be concussed every year in matches and up to four times a year in practising, and it used to be arena over these accidents that saved his mum coming to games.

“She used to be more than pleased with me and liked the scramble back and forth and pleasure that went with it however she couldn’t stand staring at,” the extinct England captain says.

“After I retired she openly admitted that she if truth be told didn’t expertise it and that she didn’t are inclined to behold the games, she would appropriate behold me.

“She wouldn’t be in a space to negate you how the sport went or who scored tries, it can perhaps well appropriate be if I bought knocked out, she would know about it.”

Matt Dawson is tackled spherical the neck by French avid gamers Olivier Magne and Fabien Galthie in a 2000 Six Countries sport

‘My momentary reminiscence will not be large’

Unsurprisingly, the concussions still believe an affect on Dawson’s life now. Recede in his neck is limited – however more pertaining to are the prospective psychological effects.

The extinct British and Irish Lion says his momentary reminiscence has suffered.

“I have to be very mindful about re-finding out things and writing notes down,” he explains.

“It by no methodology archaic to be that putrid. A ways too regularly I wouldn’t know the exiguous print of games I performed in and any individual would negate me, then I remembered it.

“When you consult with any of my coaches I was constantly referring to the detail. That started to proceed a puny.”

Matt Dawson is checked over by the medic whereas playing for Northampton

One incident made him cruise into this form of rage that Grayson, who made his worldwide debut alongside the scrum-half of in 1995 and performed with him for 11 years at Saints, thought Dawson used to be going to punch him.

Dawson had taken a success to the head in a take care of and used to be advised to scramble off. Grayson, staring at from the stands, saw his buddy plug down the tunnel and quickly heard loud bangs coming from the altering rooms below.

“I went in to possess if he used to be alright,” Grayson remembers.

“I thought he used to be going to punch me attributable to he used to be so infected and he wouldn’t in general rep love that.

“He used to be going off on one within the altering rooms about his lady friend on the time. I’m looking for to acknowledge to his questions about his relationship and it used to be pretty complicated attributable to it didn’t topic what I talked about, he would change into more and more infected.

“So far as I was fervent I was speaking to my mate who used to be wildly emotional and offended and I’ve bought no belief that had the rest to attain with a bang on the head.

“One symptom of concussion is that you simply’ve an offended and aggressive demeanour about obvious things. But I didn’t know the rest about concussion then.”

Dawson and Grayson supported every diverse thru the highs and lows of their careers with England and Northampton

‘My introduction to concussion used to be as putrid because it will get’ – Grayson

Grayson had his share of discontinuance to-misses too, playing within the days sooner than rugby change into expert.

In an beginner sport for Waterloo historic 20 the cruise-half of, now 48, kicked a penalty to determine on his facet ahead. When play restarted he went to take care of a prop and used to be knocked out.

The very last thing Grayson remembered used to be the penalty kick however when he lost consciousness he swallowed his tongue, blocking his airways and inflicting him to enter a convulsive fit.

Being an beginner sport, there used to be no clinical provision however thankfully if truth be told one of his crew-mates, Mike Hayton, used to be a doctor.

Thinking mercurial, Hayton grabbed a thick plastic straw from a drinks bottle and archaic it to open Grayson’s airways, saving his life.

“My subsequent reminiscence used to be coming spherical lying on a desk within the altering room, the sport having achieved,” the extinct England cruise-half of says.

“I went to clinic, used to be below observation overnight and that used to be that. Introduction to concussion. Compatible about as putrid because it will additionally rep.

“I attempted to believe a inch about per week after that. My mind felt heavy, bruised and painful. I felt irregular and sick.

“It does feel provoking now to possess what the affect of that would additionally believe been.”

Tomas Lavanini used to be sent off for this high take care of on England’s Owen Farrell for the duration of the 2019 World Cup in Japan

With World Rugby streaming venerable World Cup matches for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, changes within the sport since Dawson and Grayson were playing believe been introduced into entertaining reduction.

Fans on social media are mercurial to point out that games from a decade within the past are packed with the forms of tackles that sawArgentina’s Tomas Lavanini sent offon the 2019 edition of the match.

Rugby is still a terrible sport for certain – in AprilBristol Bears centre Will Hurrell retiredafter suffering a “skill stroke” attributable to a “defective knock” in a Premiership sport – however rugby’s organisers are looking for to diminish the dangers.

The Head Hurt Review protocol – a concussion diagnosis and management machine – used to be launched in 2014, and World Rugby issued contemporary steerage on high tackles four months sooner than the 2019 World Cup, main tofewer concussions on the match.

But there believe been requires more radical measures over the years:a ban on contact practising sessionsor eventaking tackling out of the sport at college level.

‘They advised me my profession used to be over in 2002’ – Dawson

Dawson has been pondering about discussions on the teach sooner than. When a fan shared a video of Springbok Corne Krige’s terrible take care of on the scrum-half of motivate in 2002, Dawson admitted hefeared the prolonged-time duration consequences of such brutal collisions.

But Krige’s physicality that day had momentary consequences too. After the match Dawson felt numbness in his thumb and forefinger and went to possess a specialist.

No longer up to 12 months sooner than a World Cup that he and Grayson would scramble on to assemble with England, Dawson used to be advised he had degenerative discs in his neck and used to be by no methodology going to play rugby all over again.

He went straight from the doctor’s to Grayson’s house, where he “entirely lost the scheme”.

“I broke down,” he remembers. “I couldn’t imagine it. They had appropriate advised me my profession used to be over.

“That used to be if truth be told one of many lowest capabilities of my profession.”

Matt Dawson takes a smack within the face for the duration of a 2003 World Cup crew match

Dawson bought a 2nd thought, then a third and used to be advised he would perhaps additionally continue however must “make certain he didn’t rep hit spherical the head all over again”.

“Now, that you simply would be able to well possess, ‘why would I probability carrying on?’” he provides. “But can believe to you’re a year far from playing within the World Cup and that’s the dream…”

Now, Dawson does not have to suffer the things he keep his mum thru attributable to neither of his two younger sons, Alex and Sami, play rugby.

But Grayson’s experiences haven’t keep him off encouraging his three childhood to soak up the sport.

James Grayson, Dawson’s godson, is a rising star for Northampton whereas Ethan performs for England Underneath-18s and twin brother Joel is within the Saints academy.

And though Grayson admits his “heart is in his mouth” occasionally when it appears love if truth be told one of them would perhaps additionally very well be injure, he believes the changes made by World Rugby mean his childhood are playing a safer sport than he did.

“It’s not provoking having childhood play rugby attributable to they are looking for to slit motivate the affect of concussions and the incidences with the methodology the sport is refereed and the methodology avid gamers are taught,” he explains.

“That is a if truth be told certain step. There have to be much less and no more extreme concussions.

“It’s an inevitable in a contact sport that accidents will occur, however if the sport is refereed in a obvious methodology then I’m more confident that it’s a safer sport to play.”

England’s Paul Grayson and Matt Dawson celebrate a success the 2003 Six Countries with Northampton crew-mates Steve Thompson and Ben Cohen

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