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Death a risk in contact sports: coroner

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/10/2016
<span style="font-size:13px;">There is always the risk of serious injury or death in rugby and rugby league matches, says a coroner looking into the death of an army league player.</span> © Getty Images/Allsport There is always the risk of serious injury or death in rugby and rugby league matches, says a coroner looking into the death of an army league player.

The death of a rugby league player who died from a head injury after a game between army sides near Palmerston North was a tragedy but part of the risk in contact sports, a coroner says.

Lieutenant Samuel Scott, 21, had scored two tries in the match at Linton Military Camp in 2014 when towards the end of the game he was run over trying to tackle an an opposition player.

"[I] hit Sam cleanly with my forearms," the opponent told the coronial inquest. "I would have hit him on the shoulder and neck area ... I continued to run over him. My knee or another part of my body may have connected with him as I drove over him but I'm not sure."

A soldier watching the match, who was trained in treating combat injuries, provided first aid before Lt Scott was taken to hospital.

However, he had suffered a serious and irreversible brain injury and active care was withdrawn. He died in hospital five days later.

Lt Scott's father had felt the player with the ball had defended against being tackled in an illegal manner, but Coroner Carla na Nagara, in her findings released on Friday, says there was no evidence for that.

The referee and other players did not see it as illegal at the time, she said.

She also noted the level of first aid exceeded that available at most comparable rugby and league matches.

"Rugby and rugby league are high impact contact sports, and players continue to sustain serious, and sometimes fatal, head and spinal injuries.

"I consider Sam's death to be the tragic realisation of risk implicit in these sports."

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