Rugby Match Momentarily Stopped For Dead Player
SURREY, ENGLAND--An exciting, fast past Rugby match between Sutton &
Epson RFC and the Thanet Wanderers was momentarily interrupted by the
death of one of the players. Officials, acting quickly, rolled the dead
man off the field and action was promptly resumed.
“It’s unfortunate that this had to happen,” said
Sam Frost of S & E. “Especially at such a crucial moment in
the match. But this is a violent game, and occasionally you’re
going to have disruptions. I think the medical staff did a superb job
of removing the corpse quickly.”
The dead player was identified as the Wanderer’s Tom Anderson,
a halfback. According to those present, he was decapitated while at
the bottom of a nasty scrum. His death was brought to the attention
of officials when one of the players mistook his head for the ball.
Said Lyndon Burrell of S & E: “I was at the bottom of the
pile and I was grasping for the ball. Suddenly I felt something round
in my hand. I thought it was the ball. Turns out it was a human head.
I showed it to the referee and he decided to pause the game. I’m
not sure why, but who am I to question the refs?”
Many rugby fans and players questioned the stoppage of play. Rugby
is a faced past game, and normally injured players are ignored or stepped
on until they can summon up the strength to get back up and join the
match. Recently though, rugby officials have been under fire for the
number of crippling injuries that occur during match play. Some have
questioned the practice of leaving a clearly injured player on the field
while other players step on him, kick him, and trip over him. It is
believed that referees were responding to such pressure when they made
the controversial decision to stop play.
Says referee Paul Windsor: “It was a difficult decision, but
the other referees and I decided it was in the best interests of the
deceased player to remove him and his severed head from the playing
field. Aside from it being in poor taste to allow a dead man to litter
the field during a crucial match, it is also dangerous for the other
players, who run the risk of tripping over the corpse and hurting themselves.
We stand by our decision.”
But some rugby purists disagree with the decision to halt play. They
say the stoppage of play was jut another example of the “sissying-up”
of the game, and that it never would have happened in the old days.
“When I was a kid, if someone died on the field, his teammates
grabbed him by the ankles and dragged him off,” said Lyle Montgomery,
63, rugby fan. “There was none o’ this girlish fretting
about bad taste or scruples. The sport has gone downhill. Leave the
‘team doctors’, and ‘trainers’ to American football.
Before you know it, teams will have to provide compensation to the deceased
players’ families. Bollocks!”
As for the Wanderers, they are despondent over their teammate’s
death but are a bit more understanding of the refs decision to halt
“I understand the decision to stop play,” said teammate
Robert Dengate, “I think that there should be a rule about dead
players. They do get in the way, and its awfully depressing to see them
lying there all puffed out, isn’t it. But we’ll miss the
old geezer, that’s for sure”
Said teammate Joe Hodges: “It’s a shame to see Tom go,
but he went out doing what he loved best – having his head pulled
off in a rugby scrum and mistaken for a football.”
Despite the fact that the play was stopped briefly, the momentum and
excitement continued in a game that saw the Wanderers edge Sutton &
Epson 20-18. By the end of the match, the Cuddington court crowd had
all but forgotten about the unfortunate accident.
“That was a great match!” cried Phillip Morganton, 32.
“Very competitive, but there was a spot of confusion there when
that man lost his head, wasn’t there? Can’t say I approved
of the stoppage of play, but the important thing was the Wanderers won”
Thought it appears a crisis has been averted by the stoppage of play,
the league is under fire from government officials for its recurring
problem of death and injuries during games. Experts complain that clubs’
rosters are being seriously depleted and there is no apparatus in place
to compensate for the losses.
“We had three men paralyzed last week,” says league official
Hugh Bronson. “And now a death. Meanwhile, who fills the roster
spot for that club? There must be compensation for teams that lose players.
But there also needs to be better procedures for avoiding death, dismemberment
and paralysis. If they had stopped play before Anderson’s head
was pulled off, they might’ve saved him. But they waited too long,
didn’t they. Also, is it too much to ask to have Band-Aids on
hand to treat injured players on the sideline? We’re not brutes