“In France, to date, no statistics, no epidemiological study has been conducted,” regrets Jean-Christophe Berlin, physiotherapist. He was responsible for the medical center of the Stade Français association until last week. He decided to resign from his position.
Four players, amateur or professional, have died in France on rugby grounds for a year, after shocks. Among them, a member of the hopes of Stade Français, who was victim a year ago of a double ultra-violent plating during a rugby match. He will succumb to it a few days later.
For Jean-Christophe Berlin, physiotherapist and former head of the medical center of the association of Stade Français, invited to franceinfo Wednesday, October 30, it is necessary “find good intelligence solutions” for “secure rugby” and make rules for there to be “fewer collisions and therefore fewer accidents on rugby groundsJean-Christophe Berlin also denounces the “denial from the French Rugby Federation that does not want to conduct epidemiological studies“on the accidents on the grounds.
You resigned last week from the Stade Français association. Why ?
Jean-Christophe Berlin: I was in charge of the medical center of the association at the time of the accident of Nicolas. It's been several years since I try to work on the subject of the dangerousness of rugby. I do not understand that we do not support Philippe Chauvin, the father of Nicolas, when he asks us for help. It is a problem of humanity, quite simply. We needed to be at his side. It was not the wish of the association. So I immediately resigned. And at the same time, it allows me to be free and, as an individual, to support Philippe Chauvin's approach. This is something that I started many years ago to try to make rugby safer, especially for young people.
Philippe Chauvin also claims to protect other players from the ultra-violent drift that can be seen on certain terrains. This is not the case today ?
Obviously, rugby is dangerous. There are two things. There are the rules, which must evolve towards more security. And there is respect for the rule. Players must be empowered. If they transgress the rules, let them be punished criminally, that is to say they are responsible for their actions. This is what Philippe Chauvin asks. Me, my approach is rather to secure rugby, that is to say to try to make rules, so that there are fewer collisions and therefore fewer possible accidents on the rugby fields.
The contact is part of rugby. How to dose? Are not we going to ask the players not to enter their opponents?
Of course, this is part of the game. It's not about removing collisions. It's about limiting them and perhaps framing them, especially in the younger categories. Youth rugby is not the same rugby as professionals. Professionals are very well equipped to support collisions, which is not the case for young players who are often fragile. There are very significant weight differences in the age categories, especially in 13-14 years. In these categories, collisions are dangerous. It is enough to regulate the collisions, to give certain rules which favor the game of movement and the game in the intervals while avoiding to return in it. The rugby I practiced, it was rather a rugby avoidance rather than collision.
Is it up to justice to decide a case like that, in your opinion?
No, it's very unfortunate to get there. I think that Philippe Chauvin himself is saddened. I think that people of good will who would sit around the table and be ready to talk, could very well find solutions without going through justice. But there is a kind of denial from the French Rugby Federation that does not want to conduct epidemiological studies on the French territory to recognize that there are many accidents, unfortunately, in rugby. President Bernard Laporte has said several times that there were fewer accidents than before, which is wrong. It is based on Anglo-Saxon statistics that are not French statistics. In France, to date, no statistics, no epidemiological study has been conducted. So, it's time to do these studies. The Minister of Sports is convinced. It's an everyday fight I've been personally doing for a long time. I hope that we will not need to go through justice to try to find solutions of good intelligence.